Crossing the Line: Human Disease and Climate Change Across Borders
Windborne fungal spores are able to move across international borders, which is a health issue because many fungi are pathogenic and can infect humans. Moreover, pathogens can shift their geographic range under climate change, infecting previously unexposed populations. We used a macrosystems approach to identify future research priorities related to windborne dispersal of fungal pathogens. We focused on the fungus Coccidioides, the causal agent for valley fever in humans. The geographic range of Coccidioides spp. includes the U.S.–Mexico border region, where cases of valley fever have increased. As Coccidioides does not adhere to international boundaries, we advocate for a binational approach to understand valley fever from a public health and ecological perspective. Knowledge gained from research on Coccidioides can be leveraged to other windborne fungal pathogens, especially those that have an environmental stage in their life cycle. Finally, we argue that air dispersal of Coccidioides should be a research priority in light of future climate challenges that will require informed science policy decisions.
Speaker / Author:
Linh Anh Cat, MS, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine
Morgan E. Gorris, MS, Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine
James T. Randerson, PhD, Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine
Meritxell Riquelme, PhD, Department of Microbiology, Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education
Kathleen K. Treseder, PhD, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine