An interesting fungus "water fungus"

Not dead yet!

Well-Known Member
My body totally freaked out the past couple of days so I was up most of last night, but at completely the wrong time to enjoy the New Year. Sigh.

Anyway, Happy New Year to you all :)

But I did just wander around on the web and stumble on something interesting. Not even sure it's related, but it has some interesting features like:

*this fungus is common in Ireland and California

*this fungus causes disease in mammals (well the fungus type does), in animals it's called "swamp cancer" and looks like a skin ulcer

* granuloma is mentioned as a symptom in humans (lumps, which I've experienced for the first time only the past few years)

*when combined with thassalemia (a genetic form of anemia) it can be deadly to humans or very severe

*in 2004 or thereabout it was considered "emerging" as a human pathogen but i've never heard of it, maybe because it was mainly an issue in Thailand, maybe still is?

Here's my path of discovery, for the curious:

Encyclopedia of Life (great web site anyway), page on molds:
[article]Water molds

Water molds don’t quite fit the common idea of a mold since the multicellular groups they create aren’t typically visible to the naked eye; under the microscope they were originally mistaken for some sort of fungal mold. In this case, these organisms are Oomycetes, which are more closely related to kelp than the other groups previously discussed. This group includes the organisms that cause potato blight( Phytophthora infestans) and sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum).[/article]

More in depth about oomycetes:
[article]What Makes Oomycetes Important to People?

FigureKoi carp infection by Saprolegnia. Source

As you know, the potato blight caused widespread famine in potato-dependent, mid-19th century Ireland. You may also be aware of a current malady, sudden oak death, that affects large numbers of trees in the Pacific coastal states of the USA. And if you are involved in agriculture in any way, you have likely heard of the downy mildews of lettuce, onions, spinach, strawberries, and other crops. Likewise, those concerned with aquaculture are alert to a variety of "fungal" diseases, including one called saprolegniasis that causes about a 10% mortality in pond-grown salmon.

What do these diseases have in common? They are all caused by oomycetes, a large group of organisms that resemble fungi morphologically but are distant from them phylogenetically. Pathogenic oomycetes cause massive destruction and huge losses in agriculture and aquaculture. They infect many animals, among them fish, crayfish, and mammals — including humans. [/article]

Someone who had traveled to Israel was affected by it somewhat recently 2011:
[article]This is the first reported case of culture-proven, contact lens-related Pythium keratitis originating from Israel. Pythium is a fungus-like, aquatic oomycete found in tropical climates.[/article]

I must say I object to the medical attitude that it's "tropical" only. When comparing the case report and the article of the scientist, I'm not convinced that it's harmless in the US but dangerous in Israel.

I thought it was a good example of how we dismiss information by assuming dangerous pathogens are mostly "tropical." Besides, I'd never heard of water fungus so it was cool.

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