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A fungus among us: deadly spores spell trouble in Ecotopia

Ah, nature. The Associated Press reports the emergence of a new, airborne deadly fungal strain that has crept out of the woodwork (literally: it grows on trees) to haunt the Pacific Northwest.

If there's any good news in this horror flick, it's that the pathogen is not contagious. Rather, spores of the fungus drift out of their leafy lairs into the air and into our air passages. Symptoms can range from a bad cough to sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, meningitis, and worse. Treatment, the Associated Press report states, can involve months to years of antifungal medications, and even surgery to remove large clumps of the fungus from their new toehold inside the body.

So far, five of 21 Oregonians have died after inhaling the spores. And look out below. It seems to be heading for California.

Via Associated Press and PLoS Pathogens.

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