Science & Tech

'Last of Us'-style plant fungus infects a human in first-ever known case

'Last of Us'-style plant fungus infects a human in first-ever known case
'Zombie' Parasite Cordyceps Fungus Takes Over Insects Through Mind Control | National Geographic

If you thought the terrifying fungal infection in 'The Last Of Us' was too far-fetched to be credible, think again.

New research has revealed that earlier this year, a man contracted a serious case of silver leaf disease – a fungal infection which usually only affects plants.

The 61-year-old unnamed patient, from India, developed the disease in his throat, in an example of a pathogen leaping from the plant kingdom into humans.

Researchers suggested in a recent study that the case is the first of its kind. Fortunately, it wasn't as serious as the Cordyceps fungus which stars in HBO sci-fi thriller.

The man, who works with fungi for a living as a mycologist, went to hospital with a cough, a hoarse voice, fatigue and difficulty swallowing, according to analysis of the case published in Medical Mycology Case Reports.

Scans revealed an abscess in his throat, which later turned out to be because of the filaments caused by the fungi stretching into his body like roots.

"Cross-kingdom human pathogens, and their potential plant reservoirs, have important implications for the emergence of infectious diseases," the authors of the report wrote.

Of course, fungal diseases strike many people, with ringworm, athletes foot and thrush among several common infections of this kind.

But the man’s affliction was unlike any of those, and medics sought help from the World Health Organisation’s fungi research centre, which eventually helped root out the infection.

According to the study, the patient had no recollection of coming into contact with the species.

However, it may be explained by the fact he had been in close proximity to decaying material and other plant fungal species because of his work.

Fortunately for the man, two months of treatment on an antifungal drug cleared the infection up. After two years of check-ups, there was no indication that he had suffered a repeat infection.

But avid watchers of 'The Last Of Us' may still feel a little concerned that this isn't the last we'll hear of such cases...

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