Recent reports state that the cause of the spread of the Cryptococcus gattii fungus two decades ago was brought about by an earthquake in Alaska way back 1964.
In the wake of the 9.2 magnitude earthquake, 139 people died because of the tsunamis that occurred in the west coast area of the continent.
According to a study by the American Society for Microbiology, the Great Alaska Quake also brought about a deadly fungus along the Pacific Northwest Coast that gave implications to the environment and to humans.
The fungus is called Cryptococcus gattii and it can cause infections if inhaled. People who may have been exposed to the fungus might be at risk for meningitis, skin infections, nodules in the lungs and in the brain and pneumonia. The fungus is reported to be fatal in occasional instances.
“The big new idea here is that tsunamis may be a significant mechanism by which pathogens spread from oceans and estuarial rivers onto land and then eventually to wildlife and humans,” Arturo Casadeva, one of the authors of the study said.
“If this hypothesis is correct, then we may eventually see similar outbreaks of Cryptococcus gattii or similar fungi, in areas inundated by the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and 2011 Japanese tsunami,” Casadeva continued.
For the meantime, researchers continue to test their hypothesis with regards to the prevalence of the fungus Cryptococcus gattii.