According to a top doctor, the fungal disease depicted in HBO TV drama The Last of Us is real, and the human race is “completely unprepared” for the type of infection.
Cordyceps fungi has the ability to turn its host into a zombie, which it has done on a large scale in the hit series based on a video game of the same name.
Spores enter the body before the fungus grows and takes over the mind, as demonstrated in insects such as ants.
Before the body erupts with spores and affects its surroundings, every nutrient is devoured from the inside of the parasitic fungus’ victim.
A fungal expert has warned that we should not “underestimate” the possibility of a Cordyceps pandemic.
“I think we underestimate fungal infections at our peril,” says Dr Neil Stone of the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
“We’ve been doing it for far too long, and we’re completely unprepared to deal with a fungal pandemic.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has become more concerned about the threat, issuing its first list of potentially lethal fungi in October of last year.
While fungi are often dismissed as “trivial, superficial, or unimportant,” according to Dr. Stone, they kill approximately 1.7 million people each year, roughly three times as many as malaria.
The “pure volume of fungi in the environment… climate change, international travel, increasing number of cases, and their deep neglect in terms of treatments we have,” according to Dr. Stone, pose a threat.
Mucormycetes, also known as black fungus, have previously caused outbreaks of fungal diseases. Meanwhile, infection causes the flesh-eating disease mucormycosis, which can be fatal.