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 Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>