As if recovering from the devastation of last month's tornado weren't enough, Joplin is facing a new threat: A fungal infection that has been linked in the deaths of at least three people. Murcomycosis is linked to fungal spores that live in the soil, usually inhaled; in Joplin's case, the spores have gotten under victims' skin. Experts say winds likely blew affected dirt into open wounds, causing what the Los Angeles Times calls a "white, fluffy mold."
A total of eight cases of the fungus have been observed, three of which were fatalities.
"I was surprised," says a local doctor. "The so-called subcutaneous form of the fungus is not very common. I have never seen it myself before, and to suddenly see this cluster was quite striking." Samples have been sent to the CDC for further study. (Read more fungus stories.)