A researcher from the University of Sydney has discovered a new species of fungus that causes life-threatening infections in cats and humans according to an article announcing the finding in the University of Sydney News dated June 18, 2013.
"This all originated from spotting an unusual fungal infection in three cats I was seeing at the University's cat treatment centre in 2006," said Dr. Vanessa Barrs, from the University's Faculty of Veterinary Science, whose findings have just been published in PLOS One.
The fungus appears to infect cats who are otherwise healthy. However, in the two humans identified, it attacked an already highly compromised immune system.
Since the first sighting of the new species, more than 20 sick domestic cats from around Australia and one cat from the United Kingdom have been diagnosed with the fungus.
"Similar to the closely related fungus Aspergillus fumigates, this new species of fungus can reproduce both asexually and sexually, and we discovered both phases of the fungus."
Dr Barrs and her team will go on to study fungi in culture collections throughout Australia to determine the prevalence of A. felis infections in people with previously diagnosed aspergillosis.
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