CDC Studying Deadly Fungus After Joplin, Mo., Tornado
The Centers for Disease Control has gotten involved in a mysterious case of a fungal infection known as mucormycosis in victims of the Joplin, Mo., tornado. As many as three people have had severe enough infections to have possibly died from a rare form of fungus after receiving injuries due to the massive twister.
Death rates are as high as 30 percent for people who have the fungus spread through their blood. The rate goes as high as 50 percent in those who inhale the spores.
Some of the injured received multiple injuries with bleeding. TheSpringfield News-Leader reports eight people have been diagnosed with massive fungal infections, three of whom have died. Samples are being sent to the CDC for further tests.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued a health advisory, four days after the Greene County (Mo.) Health Departmentpublished a memo to health professionals. The aggressive fungus causes soft tissue to die in extreme cases.
The advisory states anyone injured in the tornado with multiple lacerations, pneumonia, severe respiratory problems and kidney issues should be watched very carefully for signs of mycosis. So far, there have been no cases attributed to air, food or water. So far, cases of the fungal infection are limited to those with cuts and underlying health problems.
The state also says the infections do not travel from human to human.
The National Institutes of Health states people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to this rare form of mycosis. Mild symptoms include inflammation, coughing, fever and headache. More severe symptoms include blindness, blood clotting and even death.
Dr. Benjamin Park of the CDC told the Associated Press this type of outbreak is rare. Most major hospitals only see one or two cases a year.
More than 1,000 people were injured and 151 people killed when a massive EF5 tornado destroyed 30 percent of Joplin May 22. Some of the wounded are still in hospitals nearly three weeks after the tornado. Health officials are still facing problems even though the city has moved to clean up mode after the initial crisis waned.
If anyone has experienced any unusual symptoms, they should see a doctor immediate. Because most cases have been attributed to catching the fungus through the bloodstream, any volunteers with exposed cuts should be extremely careful.
Signs of skin discoloration appear five to 10 days after exposure to the fungus. This kind of symptom occurs when a wound near the skin becomes infected.
William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.
2012: Crossroads for Humanity:
Facebook: ‘rkm cyberjournal’:
Climate science: observations vs. models