(NaturalNews) A research study out of Duke University has found that a dangerous mutated form of an airborne fungus called Cryptococcus gattii is spreading across the Northwest United States and some parts of Western Canada. The fungus, which typically only infects people with autoimmune disorders and compromised immune systems, now seems to be infecting healthy people as well, worrying experts.
Published in PLoS Pathogens, a journal of the Public Library of Science, the report explains that the new fungus is currently infecting people across the Pacific Northwest region and its scope is continuing to expand. Though the fungus was originally discovered in tropical and subtropical regions, it is somehow thriving in temperate regions far different than its native home.
"Between 2003 and 2006, the outbreak expanded into neighboring mainland British Columbia and then into Washington and Oregon from 2005 to 2009. Based on this historical trajectory of expansion, the outbreak may continue to expand into the neighboring region of Northern California, and possibly further," explained Edmond Byrnes, author of the study.
This particular strain is especially worrisome to researchers because it has a mortality rate of roughly 25 percent. And what originated on Vancouver Island has now become a regional threat, not to mention the fact that the disease is intensifying in severity. So experts are cautioning people to beware of it in order to catch symptoms early.
Symptoms include a long-lasting cough, sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Symptoms may not appear until weeks after exposure, and can affect even domestic animals and livestock.
According to a National Geographic report, six reasonably healthy people in Oregon have already died from the fungus, and more deaths are expected as the disease continues to spread.
The disease is contracted when fungal spores are inhaled. According to the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, there's no approved treatment for the new deadly strain. Since it is a fungal infection, though, it cannot be transmitted from person to person.
Naturally-minded individuals may wish to research natural anti-fungal foods and herbs if they believe they might be infected, because there are substances that can help prevent or treat fungal infections. Maintaining a strong immune system through a superior diet that includes plenty of rest and proper exercise will also help to protect you from disease in general.