Global Temperatures May be Responsible for Rise of Deadly Fungal Disease

Global Temperatures May be Responsible for Rise of Deadly Fungal Disease

United States health officials have been warning about new generations of fast-spreading, drug-resistant diseases proliferating thanks to climate change, and it appears they have identified the first candidate.

"A$3 s the climate has gotten warmer, some of these organisms, including Candida auris, have adapted to the higher temperature, and as they adapt, they break through human's protective temperatures", co-author Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chairman of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University, told CNN.

The researchers point to an emerging fungal pathogen, Candida auris, as the canary in the coal mine.

The fungus was only identified in Japan a decade ago but has since cropped up in other countries. The most perplexing and interesting thing about the fungus was its simultaneous emergence on three separate continents - in India, Venezuela, and South Africa - between 2012 and 2015 with each clade being genetically distinct.

A new study on the mysterious origins of a deadly fungal infection that seemed to have simultaneously emerged in far-flung corners of the globe finds that global warming may be to blame.

So far C. auris remains relatively rare, said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital. "Something happened to allow this organism to bubble up and cause disease", stated Dr Casadevall. The fungus can survive on surfaces for weeks and is associated with a human mortality rate of between 30 and 60 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Microbiologists estimate there are more than a million fungal species. It is the difference between our high basal temperatures and the environmental temperatures.

Analyzing the temperature range for C. auris and a few dozen species that are its nearest fungal relatives, the scientists found that the new pathogen can grow at higher temperatures than most of these near-relatives, hinting that it may have acquired its thermal tolerance only recently.

In researching Candida auris, Casadevall's team looked at close relatives of the fungus.

Jackson said the CDC has increased its efforts to inform the public about the seriousness of fungal infections, and new antifungal drugs are under development. "The drugs that we have are not great, but they work reasonably well if the fungi is vulnerable".

The first victims of the fungus will probably become a semi-aquatic birds, which then transferred the infection to domestic birds. There have been at least 336 cases in NY, 180 in IL and 124 in New Jersey.

A couple of third of sufferers with a C. auris infection die. "If more fungi were to cross over, you really wouldn't know until somebody started reporting them in the literature". "However, we do know that fungi are very susceptible to changes in the environment and would want to understand better what effects changes have in this and other species", Chiller said in an email in response to Casadevall's paper.

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