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Thread: Potentially deadly fungus spreading in US, Canada; Fungus is unique genetic strain

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    Default Potentially deadly fungus spreading in US, Canada; Fungus is unique genetic strain

    Potentially deadly fungus spreading in US, Canada
    22 Apr 2010 22:21:58 GMT
    Source: Reuters

    * Fungus is unique genetic strain * Climate change may aid its spread WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) - A potentially deadly strain of fungus is spreading among animals and people in the northwestern United States and the Canadian province of British Columbia, researchers reported on Thursday. The airborne fungus, called Cryptococcus gattii, usually only infects transplant and AIDS patients and people with otherwise compromised immune systems, but the new strain is genetically different, the researchers said. "This novel fungus is worrisome because it appears to be a threat to otherwise healthy people," said Edmond Byrnes of Duke University in North Carolina, who led the study. "The findings presented here document that the outbreak of C. gattii in Western North America is continuing to expand throughout this temperate region," the researchers said in their report, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Pathogens at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000850. "Our findings suggest further expansion into neighboring regions is likely to occur and aim to increase disease awareness in the region." The new strain appears to be unusually deadly, with a mortality rate of about 25 percent among the 21 U.S. cases analyzed, they said. "From 1999 through 2003, the cases were largely restricted to Vancouver Island," the report reads. "Between 2003 and 2006, the outbreak expanded into neighboring mainland British Columbia and then into Washington and Oregon from 2005 to 2009. Based on this historical trajectory of expansion, the outbreak may continue to expand into the neighboring region of Northern California, and possibly further." The spore-forming fungus can cause symptoms in people and animals two weeks or more after exposure. They include a cough that lasts for weeks, sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, fever, nighttime sweats and weight loss. It has also turned up in cats, dogs, an alpaca and a sheep. Freezing can kill the fungus and climate change may be helping it spread, the researchers said. (Editing by Eric Beech)
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N22129903.htm
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

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    That's the last straw; I am moving to Antarctica. So it's a unique genetic strain, huh? I wonder which/whose lab that came out of. This bears watching; there's a fungus among us.
    "Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"

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    I'm sure Antarctica has something deadly lurking somewhere. What was that horror film set down there where the dogs carried the alien entity to the next camp?

    If this fungus is truly associated with eucalyptus, it would be natural to seek for an anti-fungal agent in the volatile oils, alkaloids or other chemical agents used by the different eucalyptus species to ward it off. Plants have had a lot longer to develop such agents than we have. The idea it comes from eucalyptus is a nice cover story if its artificially enhanced, because the fake environmental movements embrace the concept of "dangerous invasive exotics" despite all scientific evidence to the contrary; people destroy habitat, exotic plant species don't.

    Eucalypti get a bad rap especially in California, where they were imported over a hundred years ago to provide cheap firewood and timber. North of the Oregon border they really don't grow very well at all, except for a few species from the mountains and Tasmania, ghost gums, which still require extensive coddling.

    I can't remember if it was UBC or Fraser or some private corporation, but there was an experimental planting of hardy bananas in Stanley Park in Vancouver a few years ago. It would be odd for a new fungus to get its start on a eucalypt on Vancouver Island, my sense is there's a lack of density in the eucalypt population there, outside Butchart Gardens near Victoria. I guess we can't ask plant pathogen specialist ben Moshe because no one knows where he is now.
    Last edited by Helen Reyes; 04-25-2010 at 11:34 AM.

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    I guess we can't ask plant pathogen specialist ben Moshe because no one knows where he is now.
    Oh yes Helen! I'd quite forgotten about him. Disappeared into the US gulag system. Has any one an update?
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

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    Cryptococcus gattii, formerly known as Cryptococcus neoformans var gattii, has been studied extensively in the context of AIDS and immuno-suppression.

    The link below is to the CDC and a paper with over 100 clinical journal references, nearly all from the early 1990s onwards.

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol4no1/buchanan.htm

    Like Ed, I always experience a little involuntary shiver when I hear the phrase "unique genetic strain" used alongside an apparently high lethality/fatality rate.
    Last edited by Jan Klimkowski; 04-25-2010 at 04:50 PM.
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    Eucalypti get a bad rap especially in California, where they were imported over a hundred years ago to provide cheap firewood and timber. North of the Oregon border they really don't grow very well at all, except for a few species from the mountains and Tasmania, ghost gums, which still require extensive coddling.
    The Eucalyptus trees were cited as one the main reasons for the great Oakland hills fire in 1991.The Bay Area then went on a tree cutting frenzie to get rid of them.
    http://library.thinkquest.org/C01191...lls_fire.shtml

    The Oakland Hills Fire spread so quickly because of the close proximity of the houses to dense vegetation. Many houses were up against eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees that had been dried by a five-year drought. Many of the houses were also not constructed safely, with untreated wood shingles and unprotected wood decks.
    They were also imported to use as wind breaks north of SF in Marin and Sonoma County.

    The only Eucalyptus trees I've seen in Oregon were down on the Southern Border,around the Medford area.
    Last edited by Keith Millea; 04-26-2010 at 04:49 PM.
    "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.ā€¯
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    I've subscribed... caveat lector ... here's the first overnight feed:

    Google News Alert for: airborne fungus Cryptococcus gattii
    <img alt="" border="0" height="80" width="80">WorldNewsVine (blog) Potentially Deadly Fungus Expected to Spread Across the US
    WorldNewsVine (blog)
    The fungus, Cryptococcus gattii is airborne and has only been detected in the Pacific Northwest. At a news conference held Friday, Katrina Hedberg, MD, MPH, ...
    See all stories on this topic
    Potentially Fatal Airborne Fungus Spreading in North America
    ShortNews.com
    Cryptococcus gattii is airborne and has a long incubation period. Symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, coughing, ...
    See all stories on this topic
    <img alt="" border="0" height="80" width="76">TopNews United States Another Dangerous Fungus Might be Coming the American Way!
    TopNews United States
    The fungus had reportedly first surfaced in Pacific Northwest in 1999, and it has been hitting places across Canada as well. Cryptococcus gattii, or C. ...
    See all stories on this topic
    "Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"

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    New, Deadly Cryptococcus Gattii Fungus Found in U.S.

    Infections from a new strain are unpreventable—and the strain is spreading.



    http://s.ngeo.com/wpf/media-live/pho...71_600x450.jpg

    The new Cryptococcus gattii fungus strain, magnified.
    Image courtesy Edmond Byrnes



    Christine Dell'Amore
    National Geographic News
    Published April 22, 2010
    A new strain of hypervirulent, deadly Cryptococcus gattii fungus has been discovered in the United States, a new study says.
    The outbreak has already killed six people in Oregon, and it will likely creep into northern California and possibly farther, experts say.

    The new strain is of the species Cryptococcus gattii, an airborne fungus native to tropical and subtropical regions, including Papua New Guinea, Australia, and parts of South America. An older strain of the fungus was frst detected in North America in British Columbia, Canada, in 1999.
    No one knows how the species got to North America or how the fungus can thrive in a temperate region, experts say.
    "The alarming thing is that it's occurring in this region, it's affecting healthy people, and geographically it's been expanding," said study co-author Edmond Byrnes, a graduate student at the Joseph Heitman Lab at Duke University.
    Less common than bacterial and viral infections, fungal diseases usually strike people with weakened immune systems—part of what makes the recent deaths of otherwise healthy people in Oregon so worrisome.
    People can become infected with Cryptococcus gattii by inhaling the microscopic organisms—and there's not much you can do about it.
    There's no vaccination or other preventative measure available for the new strain, though the infection can be treated with antibiotics, the study says. And "there are no particular precautions that can be taken to avoid Cryptococcosis," according to the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. "You can, however, be alert for long lasting or severe symptoms and consult a physician (or veterinarian for animals) for early diagnosis and treatment."
    Appearing several months after exposure to the fungus, the infection causes a bad cough and shortness of breath, among other symptoms.
    On a positive note, fungal infections, unlike viruses, can't be passed from person to person.
    (See pictures of a new species of glowing fungi.)
    Fast-Spreading Cryptococcus Gattii Superfungi
    The first U.S. Cryptococcus gattii cases were identified in 2005. It wasn't until the new study, though, that genetic analysis revealed that the fungus is a new strain that had originated in Oregon.
    Of the 21 known cases involving the new strain, 6 have been fatal—about 25 percent. The new strain has so far been deadlier than the strain in British Columbia, which killed 19 out of 218 known victims, or 8.7 percent.
    The organism has also attacked domestic and wild animals, according to the study, published April 22 in the journal PLoS Pathogens.
    Though the reason for the new strain's severity is unknown, "one thing fungi do that bacteria don't is they have sex with each other," Byrnes noted. (Related: "Rainmaking Bacteria Ride Clouds to 'Colonize' Earth?")
    As with humans, nearly every fungus offspring represents a new combination of genes and their resulting traits. So it's possible that the new fast-spreading superfungi is the result of Cryptococcus gattii mating. (Learn more about human diseases.)
    No matter how it arose, the tropical interloper looks like "it's going to stick around," Byrnes said, "at least for the foreseeable future."

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...ealth-science/
    "Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"

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    Bloody surrounded by eucalyptus here. Couldn't get away from them to save my life :marchmellow:But, on the other hand, I have seen no danger warnings here. Yet.
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

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    Though the reason for the new strain's severity is unknown, "one thing fungi do that bacteria don't is they have sex with each other," Byrnes noted.
    Great,they have unprotected sex and we end up with their little illigitimate spores.BASTARDS!!!!!!
    "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.ā€¯
    Buckminster Fuller

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