Rodents can serve as reservoirs for emerging fungal pathogens: Study suggests

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Fungal diseases among humans are on the rise, so it is important for health authorities to understand where these pathogens come from. A new study has looked at fungi in the lung tissue of small mammals and found fungal pathogens that cause disease in humans. This indicates that these rodents can serve as reservoirs, dispersal agents, and incubators for emerging fungal pathogens.

Cronidia Emtis Arthroconidia
Photo / CDC

Fungal diseases among humans are on the rise, so it is important for health authorities to understand where these pathogens come from. A new study published in Frontiers in fungal biologythat small mammals can act as a reservoir for this fungal infection.

“Our analysis, which focused specifically on the lung pathogens that cause disease in humans, revealed a wide range of fungi in the lung tissue of small mammals,” said Paris Salazar Hamm, first author of the research, from the University of New Mexico.

“We found that many of the rodents that we sampled from areas in the southwestern United States harbored a type of fungus that can cause lung infections in humans, such as the fungus that leads to valley fever, a disease that typically causes flu-like symptoms and can potentially cause lung infections in humans. be life threatening.”

From animal to human

Over the past four decades, there has been an increase in reports of new human pathogens. Like the Covid-19 virus, host leaps have also allowed fungi to evolve and diversify. In some cases, this can increase their virulence and thus have an effect on humans.

“We wanted to understand if the fungal spores of respiratory pathogens live in the soil as they feed on dead and decaying plant material, or if instead they live inside young animals and their spores are released into the soil after the rodents die,” Salazar explained. -Important.

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Using next-generation sequencing, a method that enables rapid assessment of large-scale fungi species, the researchers analyzed fungal DNA in rodent lung tissue from museum samples.

We discovered mushrooms Cronidiathe cause of valley fever, in the lung tissue of animals from Kern County, California, and Cochise and Maricopa counties in Arizona, which are areas with high rates of this disease,” Salazar Hamm reported.

In addition, we discovered sequences from Cronidia in animals from Catron, Sierra, and Socorro counties in New Mexico, the first time this pathogen has been detected in the environment in this region.”

This is the first large study to use next-generation sequencing to evaluate fungi in the lungs of small mammals. Our results support the hypothesis that rodents can be a breeding ground for fungal respiratory pathogens.”

spread control

The findings of this study hope to inform health officials about the possibility of contracting the disease locally.

‘Current forecast for the distribution of CronidiaDepending on the climate and soil conditions, Valley Fever is expected to expand significantly towards the north and east over the next century as a result of climate change affecting environmental conditions. Salazar Hamm explained that our results will guide these modeling efforts by adding valuable information about animals as reservoirs of pathogens.

Future studies hope to examine the health of the host animals and how this may affect the spread or virulence of diseases.

“We were unable to assess the health of the mammalian hosts from which the lung tissue was obtained. Although there were pathogens, it was impossible to say definitively that there was a disease,” Salazar Hamm said.

It would be interesting to further explore the effect of fungi on mammals. This effort will require more detailed information about the general health of the animal in question.”



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