It's the newest hot scare story out there.
The killer fungus. Cryptococcus Gattii. So far 50 have been infected and 10 died.
A study in PLos Pathogens states "emerging and reemerging infectious diseases" represent "a rising public health concern."
But before you start fearing a replay of the Black Death, let's throw a little reality on the fire.
For starters, Vanderbilt and Duke researchers say your chances of getting infected by this fungus are like those of being hit by lightning. Even if there is nothing to stop it from spreading, there is also nothing to guarantee it prospers.
Fungus mutation happens all the time. A bug that may sicken or kill you may be easily destroyed in nature. We have better ways to protect ourselves against these things than science.
Take immunity. People have natural ways to gain immunity from many diseases, including those borne by a fungus.
Another big reason this fungus has looked dangerous is that doctors haven't been looking for it. Symptoms are various, show up at various times, and doctors not looking for the fungus wind up taking the wrong path.
This is going to change, rapidly, starting in the Pacific Northwest, where the new strain first appeared. Antibiotics are still effective, if they are administered.
Knowledge, in other words, is the answer to fear. Not just medical knowledge, but the kind that our own body creates in reaction to new infections.
On the whole we'll be fine.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com