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    Fungi adapting to human body temperature raises risks of future pandemics

    While fungi rarely infect humans, a worrying new discovery suggests some species are gaining abilities that could spark serious crises. Researchers reviewing patient fungal infection records in China found two cases caused by organisms never before known to sicken people. Laboratory analysis revealed these fungi could tolerate human body temperature, a trait normally protecting us from fungal diseases.

    More disturbing, tests on mice showed higher temperatures actually sped mutation rates in the fungal colonies, enabling resistance to frontline antifungals. With only a few drug classes available to treat invasive fungal infections, which already claim over 2.5 million lives annually, this presents a grave threat if such pathogens spread globally. Experts note fungal resistance is on the rise worldwide, limiting treatment options.

    While the idea of climate change driving such fungal evolution is debated, there is consensus that rising temperatures allow more fungi to survive outside their usual environmental niches. A related study linked emergence of the multidrug-resistant Candida auris to soil warming. The reviewed cases demonstrate fungal pathogens stand ready to exploit any weaknesses in human thermoregulation or immunity.

    Continued monitoring for unusual infection sources and novel fungal diseases is advised. Though challenging, developing new antifungals remains a priority given potential “doomsday scenarios” of untreatable outbreaks. Addressing climate change could help stabilize ecological pressures shaping tomorrow's healthcare threats. Vigilance and prevention offer the best hope of averting severe fungal pandemics.

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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