UW Scientists Identify Genetic Link to Hmong Fungal Infection | Local News


With less IL-6 and IL-17, the Hmong are less able to fight blastomycosis, Klein said.

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Genetic susceptibility may come from less mixing with other ethnic groups, Pepperell said. The Wisconsin Hmong have “experienced a long series of forced displacement and migration,” which may contribute to genetic isolation, she said in a statement.

Many fungal infections, such as Candida auris, a significant global threat in recent years due to its resistance to many drugs, primarily harm people who are already sick.

Blastomycosis usually makes healthy people sick, as do two similar fungi: histoplasmosis, which can come from bat and bird droppings, and coccidioidomycosis, or Valley Fever, which is found in the San Valley. Joaquin in California and other southwestern states.

Blacks are at a higher risk of contracting all three infections than whites, Klein said. Hispanics appear to be at higher risk for blastomycosis and histoplasmosis, he said, and valley fever particularly affects Filipinos.

It is not clear whether Hmongs are more susceptible than whites to histoplasmosis or valley fever, Klein said.

The Hmong should consider avoiding close exposure to the ground near water or wearing a mask when exposed, Klein said. Doctors, who usually suspect bacteria or viruses in patients with pneumonia, should be alert to the possibility of a fungal cause, especially in the Hmong and other minorities, he said.

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