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Deadly omnisexual spores spreading disease in Washington, Oregon and thereabouts, killing one out of every four people who get the stuff. It’s airborne, and lays into healthy people. More:
If C. gattii keeps having sex and spreading, its next victims will mostly likely be in Northern California, where the weather is very similar to Oregon. It’s unlikely to expand eastward, due to the freezing winters.
Whew. We’re safe in PA, but what about the poor Sasquatches?
OK, I shouldn’t kid. This stuff sounds horrible. What’s particularly troubling is that the fungus appears to have very recently mutated. If you go to the Oregon state government health page on C. gattii, it says that the mortality rate for the stuff is only five percent. The just-released study, though, finds the mortality rate has shot up to 25 percent. Excerpt:
The mutation “is causing major illness in the region, and it’s different from what’s causing disease on Vancouver Island,” says Christina Hull, PhD, an assistant professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in Madison.
“It supports the idea that this is a recent change in the organism,” she adds. “That’s a little more unnerving than what people had thought before.”
Scientists don’t know what risk factors there are for the disease. The good news, though, is that it’s unlikely to travel outside the region, and even then its virulence will likely decline over time.