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Authors' characterizations of aspects of C. gattii not studied

Posted by stevekass on 24 Apr 2010 at 00:11 GMT

In their abstract, author summary, and introduction, the authors provide the following descriptions and characterizations of C. gattii: that it was "considered a tropical fungus [and] is now causing disease in humans and animals in the United States," that "a novel genotype, VGIIc, has emerged in Oregon major source of illness in the region," and that there is a "unique and increasingly fatal fungal outbreak in the temperate climate of the North American Pacific Northwest."

Although a full reading of the article indicates that these characterizations are not the authors' research results, the characterizations do not add to readers' understanding of the subject. At worst, they have the potential to mislead casual readers of this public journal.

C. gattii infection very rarely causes illness or death in humans. The authors did not provide or analyze human or animal mortality data from the "outbreak" they describe as "causing disease in humans and animals in the United States," as "a major source of illness in [Oregon]," and as "increasingly fatal." Nor did they provide inline references at the points where they made these characterizations.

The authors found that mice inoculated with isolates of C. gattii obtained from humans and animals infected in the U.S. reached severe morbidity sooner than mice inoculated with isolates of C. gattii obtained from humans and animals infected in Canada.

The findings of differential virulence between geographic strains is interesting and important, but for a disease that rarely causes illness or death in humans or animals, discoveries of isolate virulence do not justify the characterization of this situation as an "increasingly fatal fungal outbreak."

No competing interests declared.