Friday, April 23, 2010

The latest "plague" is caused by a fungus

Those paranoid about health focus on the the potential for "germs" - i.e. viruses and bacteria - to cause illness. But we generally don't think that the humble fungus can also infect humans and threaten life and limb. A new fungal disease has appeared in Canada and is spreading into the northwestern United States, and it has a 25% mortality rate among those infected!

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.

1 comment:

Ward said...

These fungi are nasty, nasty things. An aquaintance of ours from seminary was digging in his church's lawn working on a fence and disturbed one.

He became deathly sick and ended up all but losing his vision. He finally recovered his health after months of hospital stays and medicine, but his eye sight never has recovered and he is now legally blind. Crazy stuff.