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13-year Old Girl Discovered A Fungus That Sickens AIDS Patients

A 13-year-old girl named Elan was gathering soil and tree samples from areas around Los Angeles for her science project during summer. At then she discovered a fungus. According to researchers, that fungus is deadly and sickens AIDS patients.


Fungus Deadly To AIDS People

The scientific name (binomial nomenclature) of that fungus is Cryptococcus gattii (pronounced as CRIP-to-cock-us GAT-ee-eye). This fungus literally grows on trees. According experiment it researchers have found that this fungus have been sickening HIV/AIDS patients in Southern California for decades. Cryptococcus, which encompasses a number of species including C. gattii (short form of Cryptococcus gattii) causes life-threatening infections of the lungs and brain and is responsible for one third of all AIDS-related deaths. Researchers have found strong genetic evidence that three tree species — Canary Island pine, Pohutukawa and American sweetgum — can serve as environmental hosts and sources of these human infections.

Besides, researchers have found that C. gattii is fertile and can regenerate itself either by sexual or asexual reproduction. The researchers have published their findings in PLOS Pathogens. According to a researcher Springer, “That finding is important for long-term prevalence in the environment, because this fungal pathogen will be able to grow, reproduce, disperse spores, and serve as a source of ongoing infections.”

Deborah J. Springer, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis at Duke University School of Medicine has said, “Just as people who travel to South America are told to be careful about drinking the water, people who visit other areas like California, the Pacific Northwest and Oregon need to be aware that they are at risk for developing a fungal infection, especially if their immune system is compromised.”

Source: Duke University

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