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ARE WE NEXT? Fungal Infections Have Caused More Than 80% of Known Disease-Driven Animal Extinctions

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posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 05:06 PM

Viruses, toxic chemicals, and bacteria get all of the disease glory, but after posting another thread concerning White Nose Syndrome in bats, I was stunned to learn nature's little fungi are the true menace and deserve much more attention than they seem to be getting.

A Rise in Fungal Diseases is Taking Growing Toll on Wildlife

“Fungi have driven more animal species extinct than any other class of pathogens by quite a long way,” says Matthew Fisher, an epidemiologist at Imperial College in London. Fisher and his colleagues calculate that fungi have caused more than 80 percent of known disease-driven animal extinctions. (Viruses, by comparison, are responsible for only 1 percent.) The vast majority of these fungi-driven extinctions have happened in the past 20 years. The first proven victim, Fisher says, was a captive population of Polynesian tree snails, wiped out by fungal disease in a London zoo in the 1990s.

This lethal pattern is partly explained by the independence and flexibility of fungal species: Unlike viruses, they don’t usually depend on their hosts for survival, and unlike both viruses and bacteria, which tend to be more specialized, they can quickly switch to new hosts.

So is this really a growing problem?

The article, which is nearly three years old, cites some pretty big examples:

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which attacks the outer skin layers of amphibians, disrupting their water and electrolyte intake so severely that infected animals can die of cardiac arrest. The fungus, known familiarly as Bd, has been found in more than 500 species of amphibians in 54 countries to date, most recently in Asia. Some areas of Central America have lost more than 40 percent of their amphibian species to Bd infection.

Karen Lips, a University of Maryland herpetologist who has watched Bd march through Central American amphibian populations for almost 20 years, says no amphibian is safe: “We live in a Bd world now,” she says.

The article continues:

Bd is just one of several modern-day eruptions of fungal disease. White-nose syndrome, first observed in North American bats in New York State in early 2007, is thought to be caused by the fungus Geomyces destructans, and the disease is estimated to have killed well over a million cave-dwelling bats and has now spread to 19 states and four Canadian provinces. Biologists describe the epidemic as the most dramatic decline of North American wildlife in living memory.

Of course, the numbers have gotten far worse for bats in the past two and half years, jumping to nearly 7 million dead bats and infections at the end of the 2013-2014 hibernating season confirmed in 25 states and five Canadian provinces. (Link.)

The article cites other examples:

Fungal disease also appears to play a key role in colony-collapse disorder, the recent and sudden dieoff of North American bees: Scientists posit that the bees are weakened and killed by multiple factors, including a one-two punch from a virus and a fungal parasite. In the Caribbean, a fungus called Aspergillus sydowii has contributed to the precipitous decline of coral reefs, sweeping through populations of sea fans weakened by rising ocean temperatures.

And in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia over the past decade, a new and virulent strain of the fungus Cryptococcus gattii, which attacks the lungs and nervous system, has killed more than 30 people, and infected dogs as well.

Many researchers have noticed the number and severity of these emerging fungal diseases. “I think there’s absolutely no question that there’s been a huge increase in fungal infections,” says Joseph Heitman, a microbiologist at Duke University Medical Center who studies Cryptococcus gattii.

Well, that's a bit discomforting. But why haven't we seen more articles aggregating examples and supporting the notion of an increase in fungal infections?

So looking further, this is what I could find in a brief afternoon of searching...

In 2012, this article appeared:

Emerging fungal threats to animal, plant and ecosystem health

The past two decades have seen an increasing number of virulent infectious diseases in natural populations and managed landscapes. In both animals and plants, an unprecedented number of fungal and fungal-like diseases have recently caused some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever witnessed in wild species, and are jeopardizing food security.

The following article was published two days ago:

Fungus likely to take a hit on banana crops worldwide

If a banana is part of your daily breakfast fare, you may want to brace yourself for this news: A fungus is making its way across the globe, destroying banana crops and threatening to deplete the world's supply of the popular fruit.

"It's expected to devastate banana plantations all through South America. It would take two, three or four years for it to get all across Latin America, and it could make bananas a very expensive, exotic, holiday treat instead of an everyday shelf item,"

And another from earlier this year:

An Unprecedented Plague Has Hit Oranges

Citrus greening disease has been a steadily growing problem that has reached epidemic levels this year. Because of this disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that orange production in the U.S. this year will be down 18 percent compared to last year.... the worst in nearly 30 years

edit on 23-7-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 05:07 PM
(Thread Continued...)

And these examples, also taken from news headlines of the past few months:

A deadly fungus is sweeping across the Midwest and eastern United States, killing native snakes as it makes its way through the population.

Dutch Elm Disease

Oak wilt

Ash Dieback Disease

Thousand cankers disease

White Pine Fungus Spreading

Rare disease appears in Willamette Valley wheat

A Virulent Potato fungus Is Killing the Northeast Crop

Tree disease sweeps through Everglades

Fungus Cripples Coffee Production Across Central America

Wheat rust: The fungal disease that threatens to destroy the world crop

I'm certain there are many more examples, but I think the trending implications speak for themselves. Not to mention, some of these examples are extremely alarming.

But what about humans?

In 2013, the CDC posted the following commentary/warning:

Think Fungus—Prevention and Control of Fungal Infections

Reports of human infections with environmental fungi are on the increase throughout the world. Many of these reports describe infections caused by new agents, as well as by traditional agents with new virulence factors or new mechanisms of infection. Fungal infections historically have been underrecognized and difficult to detect, and treatment options are poor.


Fungal diseases...appear to be emerging beyond their traditionally described borders for reasons that are not entirely understood.


Because most invasive fungal infections have high mortality rates, reducing the incidence of these diseases often relies on rapid and specific diagnostics, effective antifungal drugs, novel immunotherapeutic strategies, and adherence to infection control and sterility practices.


Broader control of fungal exposures in the community can also be improved by awareness, especially education regarding high-risk practices and activities.


Fungal infections remain serious and underappreciated causes of illness and death. Much can be done to prevent the consequences of these infections, although environmental exposure to these agents may not be entirely avoidable in the community. Continued public health efforts toward defining, characterizing, and tracking the emergence of fungal

infections can help to focus studies on priority infections and settings. Future translational research is urgently needed to develop novel diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments as more is learned about the pathogenesis of fungal infections and the biology of fungal agents.

Again, looking at recent headlines:

The 'Silent Epidemic' of Valley Fever in the Southwest U.S.

Valley fever, a potentially fatal dust-borne infection caused by a soil-dwelling fungus, has lurked in the deserts of the Southwest United States for hundreds of years, if not longer. But in the past decade, the disease has seen an uptick in cases, leading to a “silent epidemic,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of increasing development in arid climates where the fungus lives, as well as better testing and diagnosis, the infection’s incidence has skyrocketed, reaching 22,500 cases in 2011, up from 2,265 in 1998. But with many cases going unreported, experts believe as many as 150,000 people may be sickened annually.

In another article on this fungal infection, mortality rates are increasing:

Valley Fever: Death Toll Rising

Between 1990 and 2008 there were 3,089 documented deaths nationwide in which valley fever — also known as coccidioidomycosis — was an underlying or contributing cause, according to the research study of death certificates.

That’s nearly twice the number reported by the CDC in the past, which has recorded as few as 73 in 2003 to as high as 100 in 2004. “Coccidioidomycosis remains a major cause of death in the United States,” wrote Jennifer Y. Huang, who authored the study as her master’s thesis at the Keck School of Medicine at USC along with researchers from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.

Then there are these recent stories on the Cryptococcus gattii fungus:

This Poison Fungus Is Evolving to Get Deadlier

The Pacific-Northwest now finds itself home to a fungal species known as Cryptococcus gattii, a Brazilian variety first discovered on Vancouver Island in 1999. Fifteen years and several deaths later, C. gattii has adapted to its new home and now poses a threat serious enough to warrant “global health vigilance,” according to a new open-access study from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). "We identified several genes that may make the outbreak strains more capable of surviving colder environments and that make it more harmful in the lungs," said David Engelthaler, the study’s lead author, in a TGen statement.

Another article notes how the fungus is speading outside the Pacific Northwest:

Deadly fungal disease detected outside the Pacific Northwest

A rare fungus found in soil and trees has sickened hundreds of people in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest in the last decade -- and killed dozens -- but scientists now say they’re seeing different strains of the potentially deadly bug in additional U.S. states.

As of June, 171 cases of infection caused by Cryptococcus gatti, a fungus once confined to tropical climates, had been reported in the U.S. That includes at least 100 cases in Oregon and Washington, where officials have been tracking an outbreak since 2004.

But at least 25 cases have been detected in eight states outside of the Northwest since 2009 -- and six of those patients died, according to a new report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

edit on 23-7-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 05:07 PM
(Thread Continued...)

Then there are these other recent fungal stories related to human infection:

Increase in Life-Threatening Invasive Fungal Infections in France

Non-HIV populations show high burden of invasive fungal infections

Alarming rise in fungal infection cases: (India)

InvasiveFungal Infections Complicate Treatment, Increase Mortality of IED-Wounded Servicemembers

Fungal Nail Infections Increasing in Children

5 deaths linked to fungal infections tied to hospital linens

Also this month, the FBI is quizzing people about a fungal meningitis outbreak the CDC described as "The Largest Health Care Associated Fungal Outbreak in the U.S.", resulting in 751 infections, in 20 states, and 64 deaths. (Link.)

As was true for the animal/plant examples, I'm sure I could find more examples affecting humans...

Obviously, something very significant is taking place. Most of these fungal diseases have only appeared in the past 30 years. I've read all of the various causation theories...climate change, pesticide use, GMOs, human population and mobility....but the truth is, no one really seems to know for sure. Maybe it's a combination of all-of-the-above.

One thing is certain, however, the environmental, health and economic toll is huge........and growing.

Until now, I never fully appreciated the scale of this growing menace. My bet is a few of you haven't either.

Brave new world....
edit on 23-7-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 05:34 PM
Theres a lot of information in this thread so i might have missed it but just how do they calculate that Fungal Infections Have Caused More Than 80% of Known Disease-Driven Animal Extinctions?

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 06:04 PM
a reply to: PhoenixOD

The quote comes from epidemiologists at the Imperial College in London.

Fisher and his colleagues calculate that fungi have caused more than 80 percent of known disease-driven animal extinctions. (Viruses, by comparison, are responsible for only 1 percent.) The vast majority of these fungi-driven extinctions have happened in the past 20 years.

They also published the assessment in the Journal Nature, here.]

This graphic comes from that source.

Here's a bigger image of the chart.

edit on 23-7-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 06:16 PM
I remember a cheesy Japanese science fiction movie called something like "The Island of the Mushroom People", probably not the title.

The story is about some people out yachting in the ocean that get stranded on an island once used by the Japanese government for experiments on some kind of mushroom. Of course (spoiler alert) they all became mushrooms by the end of the movie.

To die by fungus, why not?

I must be a mushroom anyway, because they keep me in the dark and feed me a bunch of BS.

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 06:42 PM
a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

originally posted by: MichiganSwampBuck
To die by fungus, why not?

It's clear the nasty stuff is all around us.

I remembered once posting this bizarre thread:

Deadly Fungus Strikes Joplin Tornado Survivors, Volunteers

It turns out that fungal outbreaks follow natural disasters fairly regularly.

Makes ya want to take a bath, huh?

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 07:25 PM
One of the novel answers for people and mammalian pets could be Lufenuron.
It's a chitine-synthesis inhibitor. It is a less known fact that all microfungal organisms have a chitine cell wall like insects.
I have had a longtime Candida infection (bowels and upper sinuses) and some Aspergillus fumigata one. I took this cure a few times and feel better than ever in years.
Unfortunately it has not been approved for human use - it has for pet monkeys and as a flea-killer in dogs.
This is one reliable site I ordered from and I have nothing but good experiences.


On top of it, many of today's dietary customs (sugar, refined flours etc.) are good for invasive fungi. Overuse of antibiotics - which may be lifesaving otherwise. Preservatives, radioactivity, heavy metals and possibly some GMO's fortify the effect of deleterious fungi and scientists suspect there are malignant mutations of common mould and yeasts which are harder to eradicate than before. Agressive Candida was first diagnosed with people working with radiation.

Paradoxically, eating or drinking mushrooms or traditional food fermented with fungi (like Miso or Pu Erh tea) help fungal patients, because there is a niche in your body they occupy while they are safe.

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 07:27 PM
Well researched and presented. S + F

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 08:53 PM
a reply to: loam

I was trying to make a joke there, but this does sound really serious.

Well done, I'm giving up a star and flag for you.

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 11:34 PM
Terrance McKenna has speculated that some fungal spores are tough enough to survive entry into the Earth's atmosphere from space. I had a bad case of tinea a few years back. I had red spots all over my body. I've known a few people with it. I cured it by applying boric acid and exposing it to sunlight. This has worked for everybody I have told.

posted on Jul, 23 2014 @ 11:54 PM
The largest organism in the world is a fungus in Oregon.

I think I communicated with it once in the mid 70s! Can't talk about it...T&C

posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 02:10 AM
Could be a problem there.

posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 02:24 AM
Candida, anyone?

Seriously though, I have intuited that as the oceans continue acidification and mass biolife extinction, that migration of various species will happen from water to air to land or just water to land. I think it makes sense a chunk of this would be fungi. I also think that life is/will be adapting in ways we currently don't recognize. We could already be witnessing diseases from our starting off of the 6th mass extinction event that are simply not accepted or readily tested for within the medical community. Mycoplasma, and "morgellons" come to mind.

posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 02:38 AM
a reply to: loam

A menace? Id rather consider them as a solution..

posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 02:43 AM
a reply to: _damon

originally posted by: _damon
A menace? Id rather consider them as a solution..

Sorry, I can't agree.

I'm not one of those humanity haters.

I believe in the possibility of a world where balance between man and nature can be acheived.

edit on 24-7-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 03:32 AM
I would like to know more about biofilms, they seem to play a part in fungal growth, I tend to think something such as cancer and polyps in general might be fungal in nature and just untreatable maybe cause we lack a full understanding of the method and manner of fungal growths.
edit on 24-7-2014 by bubbabuddha because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 03:56 AM
a reply to: loam

Excellent post Loam……………. seriously good information in this post and another topic I can add in to the potential 'doom' list for mankind.

I lived in an old 17th centuary cottage in the UK for several years and discovered that I had been exposed to various forms of moulds and fungi spores in that time…………… My breathing and lung capacity was in a poor state BUT over time i hadn't really seen the decline.
Only now having moved and back running and exercising more regulary do i realise the situation i was in……

I also wonder about the foods we all eat and the significant build up of Candida in peoples Ailmentary canals causing issues………….. I think that ignoring all the other ''Big hitters' (Ebola, plague, a.n.other bug) maybe you are on to something with this….


posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 03:58 AM
a reply to: bubbabuddha

Here you go to an article I was just reading today….–the-unseen-protector-of-lyme-disease



posted on Jul, 24 2014 @ 05:50 AM
a reply to: loam

I'd be interested to see some statistics.

What is the real impact on the world population in %. Because these things could be seasonal.

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