If you're one of the millions of people who've been watching HBO's latest hit, The Last of Us, then you'll probably agree with me when I say, "new fear unlocked," thanks to all the talk about deadly fungi.
Of course, the mysterious zombie-creating fungi on the show are fictitious (as far as we know *nervous laugh*), but that got me wondering about what kinds of deadly fungi ACTUALLY exist in the world. Here's what I found...
1.Mucormycetes is a type of fungi that can cause a rare, but deadly, infection called mucormycosis or "black fungus."
According to Bloomberg, mucormycosis "killed more than a third of people who got it."
The article, from October 2022, continued to explain that, "the pathogen sickened more than 47,000 people in India in three months, in part, doctors believe, because the steroids used to treat Covid hobbled the immune system’s usual knockout response to the fungus spores."
2.Amanita phalloides, also known as the "death cap" mushroom, which, as its name says, can be very deadly.
According to Slate, the death cap mushroom, "kills and poisons more people every year than any other mushroom."
The article continued to explain that people who eat the mushroom will eventually suffer from "abdominal cramps, vomiting, and severely dehydrating diarrhea," while "the poison stealthily destroys [the] liver."
3.Candida auris, which is a type of yeast, is so wild that it oftentimes does not respond to common antifungal drugs.
Although the World Health Organization noted candida auris as one of the most threatening fungi in the world, very little is actually known about it.
And, according to Scientific American, "It resisted treatment by most of the few drugs that could be used against it. It thrived on cold hard surfaces and laughed at cleaning chemicals; some hospitals where it landed had to rip out equipment and walls to defeat it. It caused fast-spreading outbreaks and killed up to two thirds of the people who contracted it."
4.Amanita virosa, aka the "destroying angel" or "death angel" mushroom, which you should avoid eating at all costs.
According to North Carolina State University, "When ingested, there is a lag period following initial symptoms which can lull the patient into a false sense of security, believing that the danger has passed."
However, this is a highly poisonous mushroom that, yup...you guessed it, can also cause death.
5.Cryptococcus, which is an invasive fungus that can be transmitted through the inhalation of spores.
And, according to CNN, cryptococcus "mainly affects people with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and kills between 200–600,000 people every year."
6.Poison fire coral, a type of mushroom that, as its intense name implies, is super dangerous.
Although this fungus is native to Japan and Korea, apparently it was also recently discovered in Australia.
According to the BBC, "If eaten, the fungus can cause organ failure and brain damage" and "even touching the fungus can cause inflammation and dermatitis."
7.Aspergillus, a fungus that is so common, apparently "somewhere between 100 to 300" of its spores actually get in our lungs every day.
However, it can cause a type of infection called aspergillosis that affects the lungs and can cause pneumonia-like symptoms.
According to the CDC, "[aspergillosis] occurs primarily in immunocompromised people." But "it is a serious infection and can be a major cause of mortality" and kill those infected in as little as 10 to 14 days.
And, believe it or not, that's just the tip of the iceberg! If you wanna know more about all the deadly fungi out in the world, check out the World Health Order's recent list. Or, you know, maybe don't if you want to sleep tonight...