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HMG-CN SPECIAL REPORT: Area Trees Harbor Life Threatening Fungus For Those With Compromised Immune Systems

By Brian Hews

Cerritos and surrounding communities are home to thousands of Canary Island pine trees that harbor Cryptococcus gattii (C. gattii ). C. Gattii can cause infections with those who have compromised immune systems. C. Gattii infections were prevalent in Southern California but doctors did not know how people caught the virus until a Duke University project found the virus in the pine trees.

Cerritos and surrounding communities are home to thousands of Canary Island pine trees that harbor Cryptococcus gattii (C. gattii ). C. Gattii can cause infections with those who have compromised immune systems. C. Gattii infections were prevalent in Southern California but doctors did not know how people caught the virus until a Duke University project found the virus in the pine trees.

 

It is called Cryptococcus gattii

(C. gattii ) and can cause life-threatening infections, especially in people with compromised immune systems with one-third of AIDS-related deaths thought to be caused by the fungus.

And according to a report from NPR (NRP.org), based on a study by Duke University, the fungus is prevalent in Canary Island pine trees.

And Cerritos and surrounding communities are home to thousands of the popular pine tree.

C. gatti  is a fungus that lives in many tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world as well as British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. C. gattii is an infection that people can get after breathing in the microscopic fungus.

The infection can affect the lungs, central nervous system, or both.

According to the report, people in Southern California have been getting sick from C. gattii for years, but nobody knew how.

Researchers looked at eucalyptus trees, since they have the fungus in Australia, but even though eucalyptus trees are predominate in Southern California, the fungus has not been found.

Researchers knew that the fungus was associated with trees but did not know what tree and did not have the time or funding to find out.

That is until an enterprising 7th grader from Los Angeles, Elan Filler, looking for a science fair project, found the elusive fungi.

It started when her father, Dr. Scott Filler, an infectious disease specialist at UCLA, talked with a Duke University professor about C. gattii and how no one could find the fungus in California.

Elan, looking for a project, was soon emailing the doctor. The two designed a plan, and Elan started running around Los Angeles County swabbing trees.

She started with eucalyptus trees and did not find the fungus, so she moved on to swabbing other trees.

She sent her samples to the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University Medical Center and confirmed the fungus was in Canary Island pines, along with America Sweetgum, and New Zealand pohutukawa.

The findings were published in 2014 in PLOS Pathogens, sponsored by Duke University. Authors included Deborah J. Springer, R. Blake Billmyre, Elan Filler, Kerstin Voelz, Rhiannon Pursall, Piotr A. Mieczkowski, Robert A. Larsen, Fred S. Dietrich, Robin C. May, Scott G. Filler, and Joseph Heitman. Heitman worked with Elan on the project.

Not bad for a 16 year-old.

Symptoms of C. gattii (cryptococcal disease) include prolonged cough lasting weeks or months, sputum production, sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, sinusitis, severe headache, and stiff neck.

People who have C. gattii infection need to take prescription antifungal medication for at least 6 months, often longer. The type of treatment usually depends on the severity of the infection and the parts of the body that are affected.

For people who have asymptomatic infections or mild-to-moderate pulmonary infections, the treatment is usually an antifungal called fluconazole.

For people who have severe lung infections or infections in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), the recommended initial treatment is amphotericin B in combination with flucytosine.

After that, patients usually need to take fluconazole for an extended time to clear the infection.

The type, dose, and duration of antifungal treatment may differ for certain groups of people, such as pregnant women, children, and people in resource-limited settings.

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20 Responses to HMG-CN SPECIAL REPORT: Area Trees Harbor Life Threatening Fungus For Those With Compromised Immune Systems

  1. West Nile Virus | City of Cerritos | 911 Reply

    September 9, 2015 at 11:06 am

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact:
    Laurie Kajiwara
    (562) 916-1320
    8/14/15
    West Nile virus activity confirmed in Cerritos
    The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District
    (GLACVCD) has confirmed West Nile virus activity in a mosquito
    sample collected from Cerritos on July 28. The mosquitos were
    collected near the intersection of Briarwood Street and Kay
    Avenue (in the southeastern area of Cerritos). GLACVCD staff
    have surveyed the area and posted signs in nearby public areas.
    GLACVCD has identified West Nile virus activity in multiple
    communities in Los Angeles County in the past month. So far this
    year, GLACVCD confirmed West Nile virus-positive test results
    for 31 mosquito samples, one chicken and one dead bird.
    West Nile virus is a mosquito-transmitted disease that can
    cause debilitating illness and death to humans as well as birds,
    horses and other wildlife. Twenty percent of infected people
    will exhibit flu-like symptoms, and one in 150 people infected
    will require hospitalization. There is currently no cure or
    vaccine for the virus.
    Prevent West Nile virus – 2
    GLACVCD recommends that residents follow the “Three D’s” of
    West Nile virus prevention to protect themselves and their
    families:
     Dump/Drain – Eliminate or report standing water on
    your property because that is where mosquitoes breed.
     Dusk/Dawn – Avoid outdoor activities when mosquitoes
    are most active.
     Defend – If you are outdoors when mosquitoes are
    biting, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and
    apply insect repellent containing EPA-registered
    active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 and
    Oil of lemon eucalyptus.
    To help West Nile Virus surveillance and control efforts,
    report dead birds by contacting the California Department of
    Public Health at (877) WNV BIRD or visit westnile.ca.gov.
    For more information, call GLACVCD at (562) 944-9656 or
    visit glacvcd.org.
    # # #
    West Nile

  2. TO: Carol Chen/ Mayor of Cerritos Reply

    September 8, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    How come Carol Chen does not hold special meeting on the trees, she spends enough time w/ plastic surgeries, filler, hair pieces, plus junket trips to Asia and attending Chinese this n that .

  3. Granada Park Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Will address this at the next HOA meeting, as this is serious.

  4. Ray Watts Tract- Liberty Park Homeowners Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Cal Met hauler, as hitting these trees weekly, times 3-4 garbage trucks (per street) are whacking the hell out of these canary island trees, spreading dust.

    UPS and delivery trucks are rubbing with these pine trees, are we all going to dye in this city, because of this ghostly fungus disease?

    Winter months, strong winds are blowing dust from these trees and choking the hell out of patrons in shopping centers and pedestrians and rider waiting for COW at stops.

    How many residents in Cerritos die each. yr?

  5. ABC Parents Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    How are these trees going to effect our student at ABC, who are walking under the gigantic umbrellas from the Canary Island Pines trees. Almost of street in ABC School district is surrounded my these trees.

    Current trustees must start investigations on the Health n welfare of our students too, as many are products of asthma.

    • Cerritos High School Faculty Reply

      September 7, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      Dr. Mary Sieu, Superintendent of ABC, should immediately void all outdoor exercising and yard playing, for all students, until this fungus is researched. Every campus has this giant palm tree like pines trees within arms way of students. No tract meets practicing running throughout the region.

      What is the name of the medicine addressed in this article.

    • Cerritos High School Faculty Reply

      September 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      Dr. Mary Sieu, Superintendent of ABC, should immediately void all outdoor exercising and yard playing, for all students, until this fungus is researched. Every campus has this giant palm tree like pines trees within arms way of students. No tract meets practicing running throughout the region.

  6. Cemetery Stockholder Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    This is how CCC trying to kill off all the residents from the 1960s and all of the Philippines who have HIV Positive.

    Knabe and LA county politics work to max! Mayby Knabe will die too, he is old and lives on Briarwood, home to many dying Canary Island Pine Trees.

    Now voters know, why, Cerritos is plumbing reclaimed irrigation water to Cypress Forest Lawn Cemetery, as predicted surge in sale of plots, from La Palma an Cerritos Canary Island Pine Trees.

    Will Jewish resident Gail Grossman get her grass permit and pine tree removed, before her death? Poor Marty, her husband who has been janitor for the Canary Island Pines trees most of his married life.

    Will Artesia Cemetery be opening more space for additional burial coffins. Maybe the Buells will have to sell off some of the horsey stalls to Artesia Cemetery, as this fungus reads like plague 2015.

  7. Pine Tree Artesia Blvd Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    As the Cerritos CC and Art Gallucci, family tradition of criminal tree hugging, & corruption continues unabated for City of Cerritos Homeowners.

  8. Cerritos Realtor Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Did Chinese old lady realtor have a Canary Island Tree removed in 2013, because she was allergic. Old lady had to jump hoops from the Property Preservation to City Council, to rid her parkway of pubic nuisance tree, because her Dr. said she was dying from pine tree dandruff.

    Where is this Old Chinese realtor today, dead or alive?

  9. Mrs. R Xandra Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Real truth why Code Enforcement has dissolved:
    Director Greg Berg quit, Linda, quit and now officer Theresa quit, as all retiring premature. They don want to be sued by all of the families who have had deaths in the city.

    Hmmm, PW director of La Palma, both husband and wife died within months of working w/ Canary Island Pine Trees and now the LP director of PW has resigned and moved north.

    LCCN really needs to start investigation on mysterious deaths.

    Mrs. R Xandra

  10. Cerritos Award Winners Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Did any citywide Pride winners have these fatal Canary Island Pine Trees in their yard? BTW, Cerritos News Letter has not published list of Citywide Pride Winners 2015.

  11. Cerritos Property Preservation Commisioers Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Todays Y Yesterdays PPC has done little to aid homeowners from the powerful destruction fallout from the pine tree vast trespassing.

    Please write to our Cerritos PPC:
    The Commission members are Shadow Park Waldo Arballo (Chairperson), Superior Court Judge Philip H. Hickok (Vice-Chairperson), John Dawson, Levi Javier and Chan-Yong Kim.

  12. Arborist Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Pinus canariensis | Cerritos- La Palma Canary Island Pines Trees.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Pinus canariensis
    Canary Island pine
    Caldera de Taburiente La Palma.jpg
    Canary Island pines in Caldera de Taburiente, La Palma
    Conservation status

    Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]
    Scientific classification
    Kingdom: Plantae
    Division: Pinophyta
    Class: Pinopsida
    Order: Pinales
    Family: Pinaceae
    Genus: Pinus
    Subgenus: Pinus
    Species: P. canariensis
    Binomial name
    Pinus canariensis
    C.Sm.

    Pinus canariensis, the Canary Island pine, is a species in the genus Pinus, family Pinaceae, native and endemic to the outer Canary Islands (Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Hierro and La Palma) in the Atlantic Ocean.[2] It is a subtropical pine and does not tolerate low temperatures or hard frost, surviving temperatures down to about −6 to −10 °C. Within its natural area, it grows under extremely variable rainfall regimes, from less than 300 mm to several thousands, mostly due to differences in mist-capturing by the foliage. Under warm conditions, this is one of the most drought-tolerant pines, living even with less than 200 mm per year.

    • Cerritos High School Faculty Reply

      September 7, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Dr. Mary Sieu, Superintendent of ABC, should immediately void all outdoor exercising and yard playing, for all students, until this fungus is researched. Every campus has this giant palm tree like pines trees within arms way of students. No tract meets practicing running throughout the region.

  13. Obituary Columns : Cerritos - La Palma Canary Island Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptococcus_gattii

    Cryptococcus gattii, formerly known as Cryptococcus neoformans var gattii, is an encapsulated yeast found primarily in tropical and subtropical climates. Its teleomorphis Filobasidiella bacillispora, a filamentous fungus belonging to the class Tremellomycetes.
    Cryptococcus gattii causes the human diseases of pulmonary cryptococcosis (lung infection), basal meningitis, and cerebral cryptococcomas. Occasionally, the fungus is associated with skin, soft tissue, lymph node, bone, and joint infections. In recent years, it has appeared in British Columbia, Canada and the Pacific Northwest.[1] It has been suggested[2][3] that global warming may have been a factor in its emergence in British Columbia. From 1999 through to early 2008, two hundred and sixteen people in British Columbia have been infected with C. gattii, and eight died from complications related to it.[4] The fungus also infects animals, such as dogs, koalas anddolphins.[3] In 2007, the fungus appeared for the first time in the United States, in Whatcom County, Washington[5] and in April 2010 had spread to Oregon.[6] The most recently identified strain, designated VGIIc, is particularly virulent, having proved fatal in 19 out of 218 known cases.[7]

  14. Senate Offices Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Governor Browns Approves Artificial Turf. Sept 1, 2015

    Seeking to promote drought-conscious alternatives to thirsty lawns, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday approved a measure that prohibits homeowners associations from banning artificial turf.

    The law, which goes into effect immediately, applies to approximately 4.8 million homes. The state estimates that landscape irrigation represents 43% of urban water use.

    Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the author of the bill, AB 349, said synthetic grass can help homeowners curb their water use.

    “The grass may be fake, but the amount of water a homeowner can save by installing it is very real,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

  15. Shoemaker Gore Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    cerritos.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=15&clip_id=3579

    Video Clip

    Review and consideration of a proposed modification to the City of Cerritos policies and procedures for residents and property owners requesting the removal of parkway trees (COUNCIL).

    Agenda Report

  16. Marqurdt Reply

    September 7, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    What is the city going to do about this? Test for fungus? Barrows wanted to make pine timber out of all the street trees, is this every going to be reality?

    Council voted to allow trees to be removed at the expense to the home owner at $800. Boo hiss, we can get this done cheaper by non union tree haulers.

    • 90703 Reply

      September 7, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Mayor Crawly dam 90703.

      First deadly baptismal party.
      Next hundreds killed in the air plane crash.
      Then Barrows dirty air pollution saga on 91 freeway hitting national press..
      Followed by Rays air disaster at his plant for emissions.
      Now we have Gaylord Nap dead Pine tree fungus devastation.
      Hope there is enough insurance money for widow families to draw from.
      Edwards-Kappe robbing blind the Friends of CCPA Art Board.
      Story reads, city may have to employ more 911.

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