Fungi May Be The Fall of Mankind

There are many of the things of this world that will keep you at night. There’s COVID-19, of course, but if you’re worried like me you could be distracted by a very long list of additional fears: being hit by a car, cancer, being caught eating at a gas station without being advised, being arrested . in a wildfire, electrify yourself plugging in your laptop in a dodgy cafe. But probably not high on your list are fungi. Unfortunately, that could change.

In 2009, a patient in Japan developed a new fungal infection in their ear. The very pass Candida auris fungus was previously unknown to science (and resistant to drugs available to treat it), but within a few years, cases began to appear in Venezuela, Iran, Russia, and South Africa.

Scientists believe the spread is due to human travel, but if they follow the cases, they are surprised to learn that these strains are not really close. However, scientists have detected multiple, independent infections of an unknown fungal disease, emerging around the world, all at the same time. About one-third of people are infected Candida auris died of infection within 30 days, and now there are thousands of cases in 47 countries. Some scientists think that this sudden increase in cases in the world is a sign of things to come.

People need to be considered luckily for ourselves that they don’t have to worry constantly about fungal infections. “If you’re a tree, you’re afraid of fungi,” he said Dr. explained. Arturo Casadevall, a Johns Hopkins university microbiologist studying fungal diseases. And whether you’re a fish, a reptile, or an amphibian, fungus can also be high on your list of fears, if you can list them. (Fungal infections have been known to kill snakes, fish, corals, insects, etc.) In recent years, a fungal infection has been called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is a flowering plant species (chytrid) has destroyed amphibian populations around the world, with estimated by some scientists that the chytrid is responsible for the population decline of more than 500 amphibian species. To put that in context, that’s almost one in every 16 amphibian species known to science.

One of the reasons that fungal infections are so common in many creatures is that the fungi themselves are present in all. “It’s dating myself, but you know the Sting song” Every Breath You Take “? Well, every breath you take you breathe somewhere between 100 and 700,000 spores,” he said. Andrej Spec, a medical mycologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Louis. “They’ve reached the space station. They’re everywhere.”

People can and do get fungal infections (athlete’s foot, for starters, and fungal diseases are one of the leading causes of death in immunocompromised people with HIV). But people are usually less likely to fall for a fungus for one big reason: people are hot. (However, if you want to be a pedant at a party, you’ll probably enjoy learning that people usually don’t, in fact, the commonly quoted 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That number comes from a German study conducted in 1851. In fact, the human body temperature seems to have cooled recently, and the global average is between 97.5 and 97.9 degrees Fahrenheit.) Warm-blooded environments, in general, probably too hot for the fungus to survive. One of Casadevall’s studies is estimated that 95 percent of fungal species never survive at moderate temperatures inside humans.

You can see this temperature barrier in action when you watch animals hibernate, needing to lower their internal temperature to survive the winter. Bats, for example, have recently suffered several reductions due to white nose syndrome, which can hurt them as they hibernate and are therefore colder than usual.

For Casadevall, these findings support his theory of the long history of the world with fungi. He argues that perhaps our warm -blooded natures have evolved primarily to prevent the types of fungal infections that can wipe out the cold -blooded population.

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