Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Warmer January Temperatures May Favor Expansion of Cryptococcus gattii in Northwest North America

05.05.2010
Computer modeling predicts where potentially lethal fungus may spread

Researchers in British Columbia, Canada, have used a technique known as ecological niche modeling to identify likely areas where a potentially lethal fungus could spread next. Cryptococcus gattii, which can cause life-threatening infections of the lungs and central nervous system when inhaled, infects humans as well as a broad range of wild and domestic animals.

In a study published in the May 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Canadian researchers found that the optimal ecological niche areas of the fungus in British Columbia are limited to the central and southeastern coasts of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast, and the Vancouver Lower Mainland. Although this represents less than 2 percent of the province’s land area, two-thirds of British Columbia’s population lives there, the authors noted. They hypothesized that the San Juan Islands and Puget Trough of Washington State and the Willamette Valley of Oregon may become endemic areas for the fungus, whose spores are dispersed by the wind, animals, and humans.

The study is important because C. gattii is expanding into new ecological areas, making its spread difficult to predict. Once thought to be limited to tropical and subtropical regions, including Australia, Africa, Italy, South America, and Southern California, the fungus now is found in the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. Reports elsewhere suggest the fungus may have been exported from its native habitat on commercially valuable trees such as eucalyptus and several ornamental species.

C. gattii appeared on Vancouver Island in 1999, and by the end of 2008 it had sickened more than 240 humans and 360 animals, giving British Columbia one of the highest incidences and largest multispecies outbreaks of cryptococcosis in the world, the study recounted. Approximately 25 new human cases of cryptococcosis are now identified each year in British Columbia.

Because field sampling for the presence of a pathogen across a province of nearly 945,000 square kilometers (about 365,000 square miles) is not feasible, the authors theorized that a more practical solution would be to use ecological niche modeling, which analyzes data collected through human and animal surveillance and environmental sampling. For the model they built, which outlined where the fungus is currently established and forecast where it might spread, the researchers reported a predictive accuracy exceeding 98 percent.

The optimal niche for C. gattii is characterized by elevations averaging 100 meters above sea level, daily January average temperatures higher than 0°C (32°F), and location within biogeoclimatic zones populated by specific types of trees, according to the authors, who include Sunny Mak, Brian Klinkenberg, Karen Bartlett, and Murray Fyfe.

“Ecological niche modeling, traditionally developed for biodiversity and conservation research, recently has been employed by public health to predict the geographic risk of infectious diseases,” Mak explains. “This is a new tool that we have to inform strategies for disease surveillance, environmental sampling, and public and physician awareness of Cryptococcus gattii infections.”

The full research article, “Ecological Niche Modeling of Cryptococcus gattii in British Columbia, Canada,” is available on the EHP website at http://ehponline.org/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.0901448.

EHP is published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. EHP is an open-access journal. More information is available online at http://www.ehponline.org. Brogan & Partners Convergence Marketing handles marketing and public relations for the publication and is responsible for creation and distribution of this press release.

| Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ehponline.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>