Emerging Northwest fungal disease develops virulent Oregon strain | Science News

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Emerging Northwest fungal disease develops virulent Oregon strain

Uncommon but sometimes fatal infections of the lung or brain can show up months after someone inhales spores

By
6:09pm, April 22, 2010

A potentially lethal fungus is showing up in Oregon in a rare but highly virulent form. The fungus appears to be genetically distinct from similar strains that have been cropping up around the Pacific Northwest for more than a decade.

Cryptococcus gattii has been slowly spreading since at least 1999 across the Pacific Northwest, where it has caused more than 200 severe brain and lung infections and killed 24 people.

But a newly described strain called VGIIc is especially concerning, researchers report online April 22 in PLoS Pathogens. The strain is responsible for three of the seven known human cases of C. gattii infections in Oregon, says microbiologist Edmond J. Byrnes III of

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