"A deadly infectious disease once thought to be exclusively tropical has gained a toehold in the Pacific Northwest, and health experts suspect climate change is partially to blame.
Last week the CDC issued a report warning U.S. doctors to be alert for patients showing signs of a cryptoccocal infection.
The infection is spread by a fungus, Cryptococcus gattii, that attacks the nasal cavity and spreads to other body sites, causing pneumonia, meningitis and other lung, brain or muscle ailments. The disease also affects animals.
Until 1999 most human cases were limited to Australia and other tropical and sub-tropical regions, including Asia and Africa, along with parts of southern California.
But in 2004 the first case was reported in Oregon, and as of July 60 cases in the Pacific Northwest have been reported to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 45 cases in the region with known outcomes, nine patients died because of the infection and another six died with it, the CDC reported."