The flesh-eating fungus Coccidioides immitis is found in soil in dry areas, including the southwestern United States. The fungus ignites after periods of extreme drought. Now the fungus is spreading north.
This fungus is found in soil in dry areas, including the southwestern United States, and blooms after periods of extreme drought.
according to Washington Post Scientists suspect that climate change may be the driver behind the spread of the disease.
A clear link between a warmer climate and fungi has not yet been confirmed, but many researchers no longer have any doubts:
“I can’t think of any other infection that is so closely linked to climate change,” says Rasha Kuran, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California.
It can cause pneumonia
The fungus causes “valley fever,” according to Global Health Organization The disease can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, cough, and pneumonia. Some cases take a more serious course and require hospitalization.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of the disease have quadrupled over the past two decades. In California alone, the number rose by 800 percent in the same period.
– It will spread
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that valley fever infects 500,000 people annually, although reported cases are about 20,000. More than half of cases do not lead to symptoms, but “a few hundred” people die every year, the center writes. Washington Post .
Researcher Morgan Gores at Los Alamos National Laboratory expects the fungus to spread throughout most of the western half of the United States by the end of this century.
– What was once a disease limited primarily to the southwestern United States, will spread to the entire western United States, he tells the American newspaper.
Although scientists in the United States are concerned, there is no indication that climate change could cause the fungus to spread to Europe, Danish TV 2 wrote.
– It does not exist in Europe, but in rare cases patients come to Denmark who later become infected with it and remain in the United States, where the fungus is found naturally, as Danish researcher Mike Kavling Arndrup writes for the Danish TV channel.
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