Thursday, 22 January 2015

Could fungus be the next big killer? Experts warn fungal diseases now cause more deaths than malaria and tuberculosis

The Daily Mail (UK national newspaper) recently published the following story based on four main points made by Professor Rosemary Barnes of Cardiff University:
  • Figures show fungal diseases cause hundreds of thousands of deaths
  • Death often follows severe respiratory illness and infections of the blood
  • Experts warn fungi kill more people than malaria and tuberculosis globally
  • They also destroy a third of all food crops, affecting global economies
Recent flooding across UK and the rest of Europe has exacerbated the situation.

 ‘Flooding caused by adverse weather conditions has caused a worsening situation of home dampness and indoor mould growth, which are associated with asthma, rhinitis and other respiratory problems.’ 
‘Emerging fungal diseases such as Dutch Elm, ash dieback, sweet chestnut blight and sudden oak death are also a real concern for Britain’s forests, said Professor Barnes.’ 
 ‘Five and a half million people in the UK alone are living with asthma and half of these cases are down to an allergic reaction to fungi.’ 
 ‘Deforestation from fungal pathogens increases carbon dioxide emissions and contributes to global warming.’ 
‘Other diseases attack insect populations that are crucial for plant pollination.’ 

Professor Barnes said that there needs to be more education around the impact of fungus on health, and the economy. She suggests improving diagnostic techniques, investing more into research in the area, and performing surveillance studies of the fungi and diseases.

Read the full article here

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