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Dangerous fungal disease kills trees and poses risks to people

Dangerous fungal disease kills trees and poses risks to people



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Health risk from soot bark disease in various German cities

Soot bark has been found on trees in various cities in recent days. This fungal disease damages the trees considerably and can also lead to health problems in humans.

Dangerous soot bark disease found in different places

Essen, Herne, Erlangen: in various German cities, soot bark disease has been found on trees in recent days. This fungal disease damages the trees considerably, they have to be felled. And: "The disease not only affects the trees, but can also lead to health problems in humans," writes the city of Herne in a message.

First proven in Germany in 2005

The soot bark disease originates from North America and was first described in Europe in 1945. In Germany it was first proven in 2005 in Baden-Württemberg.

The disease was first confirmed in Bavaria in summer 2018, as the city of Erlangen explains on its website.

"The cause is a fungus that occurs primarily as a parasite on already weakened native maple trees," the experts explain.

In the advanced stage, thick layers of black fungal spores are visible under falling bark. The affected tree trunks then look as if they were covered with soot. Hence the German name of the disease.

Health impairments in humans

The disease not only affects trees, but can also lead to health problems in humans.

According to experts, intensive contact with the spores can trigger an allergic reaction.

According to the information, symptoms such as irritable cough, fever, shortness of breath or chills can appear a few hours after contact with the spores.

"They subside after a few hours, but can also last for days," the city of Herne said.

Breathing masks and protective clothing

"No human diseases are known from Germany (March 27, 2019), although they can be expected in increasingly dry and low-rain summers," explains the German Society for Mycology (DGfM).

There is no health risk for an otherwise healthy forest walker or mushroom picker, but people such as forest workers who have more intensive contact with infested trees should avoid inhaling spores.

Therefore, respiratory masks and protective clothing are recommended when cutting. In addition, the clearing should best be done in damp weather to avoid whirling up the spores. (ad)

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