category

Something new to worry about


You’ve probably never heard of it, but

It’s endemic to the Southwest…
It’s spreading with global warming…
It’s annual economic costs are in the
millions…
and it’s a biological agent covered under the
recently enacted Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act

What is it?

Coccidioidomycosis. AKA Valley Fever. Also


C. immitis, a soil fungus, inhabits a unique ecologic niche in the
topsoil of the lower Sonoran life zone.
The
infectious propagules are arthroconidia, single-cell fragments of mycelial
threads, which become easily airborne to cause inhalation exposure. In the
alveoli, arthroconidia undergo dimorphic transition to spherules, which fragment
into endospores. When released from the spherule, each endospore can act as a
new infectious unit in vivo.
C.
immitis,
one of the most virulent and infectious fungal pathogens, poses a
serious occupational hazard for laboratory personnel, especially in areas where
the disease is not endemic and workers are less likely to practice biohazard
safety level (BSL)-3 containment, which is required for the handling of this
pathogen. The serious biohazard potential of
C. immitis has led to its
inclusion among the biological agents covered under the recently enacted
Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act, which regulates interstate
transport of infectious materials.



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