The highly anticipated series The Last of Us premiered this month, and it has been met with nothing but acclaim from both critics and viewers. The show has received a 100% approval rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
The terrifying fungal disease that transforms its hosts into zombies and quickly spreads around the world and resets modern civilization is at the centre of the show and the original video game.
Despite more than 200 million people suffering from serious life-threatening fungal disease and more than 1 million deaths annually attributable to fungal pathogens, they are often overlooked in the real world.
As a rallying cry to policymakers and the international scientific community, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently published guidance highlighting 19 priority fungal pathogens.
Scientists all over the world are trying to learn more about these fungi, and one of them is Professor Matthew Fisher of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London.
His group at Imperial’s White City campus is concentrating on two of the most dangerous pathogens: Aspergillus (also known as black mould) and Cryptococcus, a yeast.
previous to exploding completely through their skulls. Some similarities can be drawn to the effects of other non-fungal parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii, on the behaviour of rodents and possibly even humans.
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Fungi are ancient and pervasive, much like bacteria and viruses. In fact, a massive mycorrhizal network in the United States is thought to be a type of fungus and one of the largest organisms on Earth. Fungal pathogens pose a significant, yet frequently ignored, threat to human health, similar to that posed by bacteria and viruses. Every day, we are all put in danger by fungi that could ultimately kill us.
“The global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how quickly infectious diseases can spread. Because of climate change, we may see the emergence of new fungal pathogens or the spread of existing ones.
“The development of resistance to antifungal medications is another major problem when dealing with fungal infections. The effects of antibiotic resistance in bacteria are evident in the spread of “superbugs” like MRSA. Many cases of fungal infections now present this pattern.
“We hope that the WHO’s list will serve as a wake-up call to the growing global threat posed by fungal pathogens. The constant threat they pose necessitates the creation of measures to deal with it.”