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Airborne Fungus Spreading in the Pacific Northwest

Be Careful While Hiking: Airborne Fungus Spreading in the Pacific Northwest

In what might be seen as another reason to panic, public health officials have issued a warning about a "potentially deadly airborne fungus" spreading in the Pacific Northwest. The fungus was first seen 10 years ago in Canada and has since spread through Washington with recent cases in both Portland and Northern California. The "killer fungus" has triggered an infection in its victims that can cause pneumonia and meningitis. According to records, a little more than 50 cases have been reported, with 10 of those being fatal.

Scary? Yes. But not panic worthy. At least that's the message the CDC told WebMD.

"We wouldn't recommend that people change their habits in any way," Julie Harris, PhD, MPH, a staff epidemiologist with the CDC, tells WebMD. "We wouldn't recommend people stay indoors or don't go hiking or don't go outdoors."

The infection only happens from inhaling the microbial pathogen, but even then officials say that contraction is extremely rare. Also of importance is that it's not contagious, meaning another person cannot infect you.

If you do hike in these areas, keep in mind the symptoms associated with the infection. If infected, these symptoms will arrive two to eight months after exposure: severe headache, fever, chills, and shortness of breath.

While we at Fit don't want to freak you out, we know how important it is to be aware of what's out there. Since hiking presents a new set of challenges – bugs and rocky terrain come to mind — make sure to always play it extra safe.

Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 7 years
We were talking about this at work today...there's a very small likelihood that you'd contract this unless the conditions for the spores were just right. If your immune system is compromised, it'd probably be more likely to infect you as well.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Wow, this is really timely for me. My 16 year old cousin has been in intensive care with this for almost 3 weeks now. In addition to pneumonia, it also caused her lungs to fill up with fluid, and then later they collapsed. It's been really, really scary.
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