Infectious Diseases

Cryptococcus Gattii Deadly Strain of Fungus Spreading in the us



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After little time to recover from recent problems with Swine flu, word come now of another potential deadly killer call Cryptococcus Gattii. It was seen most recently in the Northwest United States and is something of great concern to many because it appears to be  airborne in nature.  From where it has been seen, it seems to be spreading, both in the aforementioned Northwest United States as well as the province of British Columbia. 

It is a chilling thought that this new fungus could be spreading via the air.  By going that route, it makes it unlike the flu where keeping your hands clean and stuff is the best prevention.  Not only this, but it also appears that it is spreading not only through humans, but is also affecting animals as well.  That will call into question whether it can perhaps contaminate certain types of meats and such.

To this point, doctors had concerns about this fungus due to the fact that it had occasion to infect folks with compromised immune systems, which you would typically find with folks that had undergone a transplant perhaps or those who have acquired AIDS, which as you know is all about destroying the immune system.  The fungus now though has mutated itself if you will into a strain with different genetic characteristics and it seems to affect healthy people as well. 

Researchers revealed evidence of their findings in the Public Library of Science Journal Plos Pathogens and some of the quotes should be pretty alarming to you.  "The findings presented here document that the outbreak of C. gattii in Western North America is continuing to expand throughout this temperate region," and "Our findings suggest further expansion into neighboring regions is likely to occur and aim to increase disease awareness in the region."  Certainly not something people wanted to here. 

Sure as day there will be those that look at this and relate it to Swine Flu which people yelled plague, everyone panicked, then it was not as bad as feared.  This one though should be taken even more seriously then the Swine though because it is showing a mortality rate of near 25 percent.  This was gleened from studies that were done of 21 cases that were found and analyzed on this disease. 

So what is known about this deadly fungus in terms of symptoms and the like?  Well doctors seemed to have found some commonality among those that have contracted it.  First off, the fungus and its effects will not necessarily appear immediately.  In fact in some cases symptoms are appearing as far out as two weeks after exposure to this spore-forming predator.   From there an infected person can look for shortness of breath, a cough that might hang on for weeks, headaches, night sweats, fever, weight loss, and in some cases sharp chest pain. 

Not only have those humans mentioned above had it, but also there are cases of dogs, cats, and a sheep falling victim.  You have to hate a disease that does not discriminate!  You might be asking yourself though what will get rid of it.  Interestingly enough, freezing kills the bugger but that’s where scientists become even more concerned.  They feel as though the ever-changing climate on the planet, the so-called global warning, maybe contributing to the spread of the fungus.

Where will it stop?  They can only conjecture right now but statistics show that up until 2003 it stayed basically on Vancouver Island.  Since then it made its way into British Columbia, then stateside to Washington and Oregon.  Given its path of progression, researchers fear that Northern California is next up in its path.

In the end let us hope that we get an extra cold winter out that way and it wipes it out.  But for now we are heading into the warmest seasons of the year so potentially this could be a time for it to branch out.  That is an unwelcome thought to all, especially those on the West Coast of this nation.

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