Science & Tech

Climate change could make fungi more infectious and dangerous to humans

Climate change could make fungi more infectious and dangerous to humans
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Euronews News / VideoElephant

The effects of climate change could make fungi increasingly dangerous to humans, experts have warned.

Climate change is one of the most important factors affecting the world as we know it, with warnings that the human body is struggling to cope with new higher temperatures in Europe and that flora and fauna are having a hard time adapting to a warmer climate.

Experts looking at fungi specifically have suggested that rising global temperatures could cause it to become more harmful to human beings.

A global team of researchers and specialists in infectious diseases, based in China, conducted research and found some concerning evidence that fungi may soon be able to live inside the human body.

Typically, mammals are protected from fungal infections because our body heat is an inhospitable environment for fungus, which thrives in cooler temperatures. This means that humans are far more likely to suffer from diseases caused by bacteria or viruses.

However, researchers warn that fungi have the ability to adapt to a warming climate and eventually could reach the point where they are able to tolerate heat enough to live inside and on the body of mammals.

The team based in China compared fungal infections in patients in 96 hospitals there between 2009 to 2019. Over the 10 year period, they identified thousands of pathogens, but one – Rhodosporidiobolus fluvialis – stood out because it had never been reported to infect anyone.

In 2013 and 2016, two unrelated patients in intensive care for serious underlying illnesses died while infected with the pathogen, which was resistant to the two primary drugs used to treat potentially fatal fungal infections.

The team tested the pathogen in immunocompromised mice and found that it thrived inside them. Some fungal cells even mutated into a more aggressive form within the animals.

It was discovered that the fungus cells were able to develop mutations 21 times more rapidly when cultivated at 37 degrees celsius (the temperature of the human body) than they were at 25 degrees celsius.

The results show that the effects of climate change could be deadly and highlight the seriousness of the consequences of our warming planet.

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