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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
April 16, 2014

Fungal Infections May Be Overlooked After Natural Disasters

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Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;311(15):1490. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.3535

Survivors of natural disasters may develop fungal infections that aren’t properly treated because they’re clinically similar to bacterial infections, a recent report indicates.

During a natural disaster pathogenic fungi may be disrupted from their natural habitat and spread over wide areas, infecting dozens or hundreds of people (Benedict K and Park BJ. Emerg Infect Dis. 2014;20[3]:349-355).

After the January 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake, its aftershocks, and related landslides, it’s likely that Coccidioides spores were aerosolized and spread by huge dust clouds. In nearby Ventura County, California, 203 acute cases of coccidioidomycosis were linked with dust exposure. Fungal infection apparently wasn’t considered in the initial diagnoses; 93% of the patients received at least 1 antibacterial drug before coccidioidomycosis was diagnosed.

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