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This deadly fungal disease could use climate change to mobilize



The vast majority of the 10,000 cases of Valley fever diagnosed in the United States each occur in Arizona and California. Coccidioides fungus, which causes the disease, needs to survive and thrive.

 Popular Science © Provided by Bonnier Corporation
 Popular Science

But as the climate changes, with change, by 2100, the fungus' range will expand, the number of Valley will increase by 50 percent, according to a new model published in the journal GeoHealth.

"We know Valley fever and the fungus that causes it to be hot and dry -Really the desert climates, "said lead study author Morgan Gorris, a researcher in the department of earth science at the University of California, Irvine.

The Coccidioides fungus grows in soil in low rainfall areas, and then dries out during droughts and creates spores that can be kicked into the air by wind or other disturbances. The spores are then inhaled into the lung, which causes Valley fever. The condition is usually mild, and causes a cough, fever and chills. However, it causes about 200 deaths in the United States each year, particularly in the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.

The study considered rainfall, temperature, and other environmental data on the Valley. In the future, the disease would be regularly used in future climate models. Western states and northward

"It will move through Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming-areas that are drier," says study author James Randerson, a professor in the department of earth science at the University of California, Irvine. "It's moving into the area where the Dust Bowl was present. That's concerning, because we know that conditions in the past have led to dust production, "and dusty conditions can interact with and increase levels of Valley fever. In Northern California and parts of Oregon, though, climate change is projected to increase rainfall-which would protect against the fungus, even though temperatures will rise.

The study thus said that under a more moderate level of climate change-if fossil fuel use tapered off and action what to stop warming-Valley fever would not have as large an expansion. "Randerson says."

Right now, the Valley of the World for Disease Control (CDC). "Random says." Our maps and projections suggest that there is more to be said.

"It's really hard to be a physician to adjust to diseases," says Sarah Coates, A dermatologist at the University of California, San Francisco. "It's a huge thing we need to address in medical training – actually talking about climate change and diseases that are sensitive to it." San Francisco does not usually see many cases of Valley fever-typically it's around one a year. But in 2016, the area saw a higher than normal number of cases of the illness, which may have been related to heavy rainfall that year. Coates consulted on cases where the fungus affected the skin, which is a sign that the illness is severe. "For me, it's been important to have this on the list of things that could be," she says.

Models can help doctors recognize the types of diseases that they might encounter in the near future, as the climate they live in shifts. These are some of the most useful facts we have to say, especially in these states. As an educator, that makes a difference, "Coates says.

Gorris hopes the study can be used by public health officials to develop disease surveillance programs.

Hot, Polluted Cities Can Show How Future Allergies Might Get Worse (Provided by Newsy )


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