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Fungal Infection Still Stalks Tennessee Mountain Region

Blastomycosis hotspot in two counties persisted through study periods

TUESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- The Appalachian Mountains of northeastern Tennessee around Johnson City remain a hotspot for the fungal infection blastomycosis, according to study findings published in the April issue of the journal Chest.

Rezhan Hussein, M.D., of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of the incidence of the fungal infection in northeast Tennessee in the period 1996 to 2005 (n=76) as compared to data from 1980 to 1995 (n=72), to determine if the disease continues to be endemic to the area, and if its epidemiologic features have changed over the decades covered by the data.

The researchers found that the disease has remained clinically constant over the two study periods, and that it remains endemic to the region with more than half of all cases from 1996 to 2005 occurring in Washington and Unicoi counties. Furthermore, three counties surrounding those core counties had infection rate increases in 1996 to 2005 compared to 1980 to 1995, the report indicates.

"As our region continues to experience population growth as well as an expansion in housing, roads and other construction projects, additional cases are to be expected and health care practitioners in the area must be cognizant of the clinical and epidemiologic features of this interesting geographically related fungal disease," the authors conclude.

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