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August 29, 2011 | By Kim Willsher, Los Angeles Times
For nearly 200 years, the plane trees have stood sentry over the Canal du Midi. Some rise ramrod-straight and proud over Europe's oldest man-made waterway. Others lean like creaky old men, forming an impenetrable canopy over the dappled, barely moving water below. Their shade protects travelers from the relentless Midi sun. Their roots hold up the canal's banks. Their hardy leaves sink to the bottom and stop the water from seeping into the soil. Perhaps just as important, they transform a utilitarian artery into a thing of natural beauty.
June 11, 2011 | Thomas H. Maugh II
Some survivors of last month's massive tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, Mo., are facing another indignity: an outbreak of a rare but frequently lethal fungal infection. Eight people have been confirmed to have the infection, known as murcomycosis, and at least three have died, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Health authorities fear other tornado victims may also be infected without realizing it. "People who have wounds that are not improving should seek medical attention immediately," said Dr. Benjamin Park, a medical officer in the mycotic disease branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which monitors outbreaks of fungal infections.
June 10, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times / For the Bosoter Shots blog
As if Joplin residents didn't have enough problems in the wake of last month's tornado that destroyed large segments of the town, a physician in the Missouri community says that some of the survivors are confronting a potentially lethal fungus infection. At least nine survivors of the tornado have contracted the infections, and a third of them have died -- although it is not clear if the fungus is the cause of death -- Dr. Uwe Schmidt of the Freeman Health System told the Springfield News-Leader.
May 7, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Around the world, frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are disappearing — and much about their demise has been a mystery. Now, in an episode of amphibian CSI, biologists have used decades-old museum samples of frogs, toads and salamanders to track the relentless path of a killer fungus across Mexico and Central America over the last 40 years. The findings, published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, strongly link the amphibians' disappearance to the fungus and suggest that the disease was an alien invader rather than a native disease let loose by climate change.
April 18, 2011 | By Miles Corwin, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Over the last few decades the intelligent thriller has become an oxymoron. The thriller aspect of many of these books has eclipsed the intelligent narrative. However, "Spiral" by Paul McEuen represents a return to form. McEuen, a physics professor at Cornell University and a first-time novelist, does a fine job of braiding science, story and suspense to create an engaging and fast-paced novel. The prologue is set in 1946 when Liam Connor, a young Irish biology prodigy in the Royal Navy, is dispatched to a U.S. vessel in the Pacific after a group of sailors aboard another ship contracted a lethal fungal virus.
April 3, 2011 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
More than 100 hibernating bats hang from the vaulted ceiling of a chilly gallery in central New Mexico's Fort Stanton Cave, seemingly unaware of the lights from helmet lanterns sweeping over their gargoyle-like faces. The mood is heavy with anxiety as biologists Marikay Ramsey and Debbie Buecher search for signs of white-nose syndrome, a novel, infectious and lethal cold-loving fungus that digests the skin and wings of hibernating bats and smudges their muzzles with a powdery white growth.
October 1, 2010 | By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
Opium production in Afghanistan this year plunged by nearly half from 2009 levels, the United Nations said in a report Thursday. But the steep drop was attributed to a fungus that wreaked havoc on the poppy crop, not to Western anti-narcotics efforts. The scarcity dramatically drove up prices so much that officials fear poppy cultivation will prove an irresistible option in the coming year for farmers whom authorities are trying to entice to grow legal crops. And despite the blight, the premium prices probably put about as much drug money into the insurgency's coffers as previously.
August 2, 2010 | Joe Graedon, Teresa Graedon, The People's Pharmacy
For more than 20 years, I was plagued with dry, flaky skin on the side of my nose and behind my earlobes. I went to several doctors, including dermatologists. We tried various salves, to no avail. I wondered if this ailment was caused by a fungus. As a chemist, I know that iodine is very effective on fungus. I applied tincture of iodine with my fingers (every two days for a week) and got cured within a week. It's been two months, and the spots have not returned. I previously had success treating toenail fungus with iodine.
June 20, 2010 | By Rachel Bernstein, Los Angeles Times
A disease killing more than a million with a mortality rate close to 100% continues to sweep across the country. First detected in New York in 2006, it is now found in 14 states in the East and South, leaving starvation and death in its wake, and is working its way westward. This disease affects not people but hibernating bats. White-nose syndrome, so named because of the white fungus that grows on infected bats' noses, was discovered last month in Oklahoma, the farthest west it has been seen.
June 11, 2010 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Researchers say they've discovered the best way to save flowering dogwood trees in Eastern U.S. forests from an invasive fungus: Burn the forests. The white-flowered tree, Cornus florida , was once prototypical of those forests and has inspired festivals across the East. But in recent years, its numbers have dwindled because of attack by the fungus Discula de s tructiva , which causes cankers to grow on the tree and its leaves to fall off. Reestablishing the dogwood could prove vital for ecosystems that rely on its ability to draw calcium from deep in the soil and fertilize the ground with its fallen leaves.
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