By The Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — The new variant of a common fungus found in a Wisconsin river, and a strain of the same species that infects humans in Mexico, could threaten two U.T.
As., Canada and the U, with a potential economic impact estimated at $300 billion, U.N. officials said Friday.
The fungus, a new strain of Cladosporium cristatus, is the same strain that causes an outbreak of a parasitic disease known as clausporiasis that kills more than 200,000 people worldwide.
The U.K.-based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Natural History said the fungus causes a more severe illness that may lead to death if caught early.
The two other infections have been linked to a different strain of a fungus found across the U.-S.-Canada border.
In Canada, the fungus has killed more than 100 people.
U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) President Matt Pestrella said the new strain could make it harder for farmers and ranchers to recover and fight off invasive species.
The species has been isolated in a river in the small state of New York, where it was first reported in 2013.
It has been found in five states and in Mexico.
The NRDC said in a statement Friday that the new strains have a much lower rate of spread than previously reported and it was possible the fungus could become established in more locations.
There have been reports of infections in a New Jersey dairy, but no fatalities have been reported.
The state has not reported an outbreak involving a new species of fungus.
The new strain is likely to cause serious economic damage, especially to the dairy industry, the NRDC statement said.
It would also be a huge financial hit for farmers.
“There is no good reason to have two new strains that are so different,” Pestlar said.
The RSPB, which has funded research to help control Cladosperium, said it would continue to monitor the situation and that it is taking steps to identify the source of the new fungus.