The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 29, 2011

CDC: Joplin site of first known cluster of fungus victims after a tornado

From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Centers for Disease Control released a report today about the fungus found in tornado victims following the May 22 storm.

While the fungus is not unknown, the agency said: “ ...this is the first known cluster occurring after a tornado.”

According to the federal agency, 13 cases of of mucormycosis were confirmed in the weeks after the storm. No cases have been reported since June 17. No infections were reported among people cleaning up debris.

The CDC field team found patients ranged in age from 13 to 76, were both male and female, and sustained injuries including lacerations, fractures and blunt trauma.

“Wooden splinters were the most common foreign body, found in the wounds of four patients,” the agency reported.  

Ten fungus patients required admission to intensive-care units; five died, but it is unclear what role, if any, the fungus played in their death.