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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

It is now possible to find fungi in every state in the United States that may cause severe lung infections

It was formerly believed that particular parts of the United States were the only ones affected by three different species of fungus that cause deadly lung infections; nevertheless, these fungi are now common.

In 1955, histoplasma fungus thrived mostly in the soil of the Midwest, as well as sections of the East and South; this was also where the majority of cases of histoplasmosis were reported. According to a study that was published on November 11 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Medicare data from 2007 to 2016 show that 47 states and Washington, D.C. had instances of histoplasmosis that were over a particular threshold.

According to Andrej Spec, a physician specialising in infectious illnesses and a mycologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, these fungi are now “a lot more widespread than we believe they are.”

Infections in patients who reside outside of the fungi’s historical limits may be undiagnosed by physicians who rely on maps from the 1950s and 1960s to make their diagnoses. The failure to detect an illness in a timely manner might have fatal repercussions.

Spec and his colleagues revised maps of the distribution of Histoplasma cases and two other types of fungus whose ranges have grown, most likely as a result of climate change.

According to the statistics kept by Medicare, the disease coccidioidomycosis, which is caused by fungus called Coccidioides, has expanded from its origin in the Southwest in 1955 to 35 other states. Fungi belonging to the genus Coccidioides are the root cause of valley fever. In recent years, an increase in the number of cases of valley fever has been related to wildfires.

Blastomyces, much like Histoplasma, was largely discovered in the East and the Midwest in the year 1955. According to the findings of the researchers, however, from 2007 to 2016, forty states recorded blastomycosis instances that were over a particular threshold.

According to Spec, medical students are trained to seek for horses rather than zebras when diagnosing diseases. This means that testing often concentrate on common infectious organisms rather than unusual ones. We’ve been referring to these mushrooms as zebras, but in reality, they’re not zebras at all. They are horses called Clydesdales. Clydesdales aren’t the most frequent kind of horse you’ll see, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re still horses.

It is his goal that the revised maps would persuade medical professionals to do tests for the fungus more often in individuals who have lung infections.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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