Fungal lung infections are spreading to parts of the United States where they were once never seen — likely a result of climate change, experts say.

To the average person, the term fungal infection may conjure up thoughts of athlete’s foot or toenail problems. But some fungus species cause potentially severe respiratory infections, when a person inhales microscopic spores from fungi in the soil.

In the United States, the major fungal species behind those illnesses were historically limited to regional “hot spots.” But that’s no longer the case, according to Dr. George Thompson, a professor and infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine.

Writing in the Nov. 22 Annals of Internal Medicine, Thompson and colleague Dr. Tom Chiller, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, describe the expansion of three fungal diseases: histoplasmosis, blastomycosis and coccidioidomycosis (commonly called Valley fever). Get the full story here.