It’s time to be afraid of fungus

There are many Things in this world that may keep you awake at night. Of course there is COVID-19, but if you are anxious like me, you might list a long list of additional fears: being hit by a car, cancer, being poisoned by an unwise gas station meal, being caught in a wildfire , Plugged in a laptop in a cunning cafe and was electrocuted. But the one that may not be high on your list is fungus. Unfortunately, this may be changing.

In 2009, a patient in Japan developed a new fungal infection in the ear.Highly infectious Candida auris The fungus was previously scientifically unknown (and resistant to available drugs), but within a few years, cases began to appear in Venezuela, Iran, Russia, and South Africa.

The scientists assumed that the spread was due to human travel, but when they sequenced the cases, they were surprised to find that these strains were not closely related at all. Instead, scientists have seen multiple independent infections of an unknown fungal disease appearing all over the world at the same time.About a third of people are infected Candida auris Died from infection within 30 days, and now there are thousands of cases in 47 countries. Some scientists believe that this sudden surge in global cases heralds what is about to happen.

Humans should consider Fortunately for us, they don’t have to worry about fungal infections often. “If you were a tree, you would be afraid of fungus,” said PhD.Arturo Casadval, A microbiologist at Johns Hopkins University who studies fungal diseases. If you happen to be a fish, reptile, or amphibian, fungus will also occupy a high position on your fear list. Can you list it? (It is well known that fungal infections will destroy snakes, fish, corals, insects, etc.) In recent years, a fungal infection is called Dianthus batrium (chytrid) has drastically reduced the number of amphibian populations around the world, Some scientists estimate Chytrid is the cause of the decline in populations of more than 500 amphibians. To put it in context, this is roughly one of every 16 amphibians known to science.

One of the reasons why fungal infections are so common in so many organisms is that the fungus itself is ubiquitous. “This is dating me, but do you know Sting’s song’Every Breath You Take’? Well, you inhale 100 to 700,000 spores every time you breathe,” said Andrej Spec, a medical mycologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Louis. “They have reached the space station. They are absolutely everywhere.”

Humans can and do be infected with fungi (the first is athlete’s foot, fungal disease is one of the main reasons for the death of HIV-infected people with low immune function). But people are usually less likely to be infected with fungi, for one important reason: humans are very hot. (However, if you want to be a scholastic at a party, you might like to understand that humans are usually not, in fact, the commonly cited 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This number comes from a German study completed in 1851. In fact, the human body’s recent temperature seems to be somewhat different. Declining, the global average temperature is between 97.5 and 97.9 degrees Fahrenheit.) In general, warm-blooded environments tend to be too hot for fungi to survive. A study by Casadevall estimated 95% of fungal species simply cannot survive the average temperature inside humans.

When you observe hibernating animals, you can see the effect of this temperature barrier, which requires lowering its internal temperature to survive the winter.For example, bats have recently suffered a huge decline due to White nose syndrome, Which will infect them when they hibernate, so they are cooler than usual.

For Casadevall, these findings support his theory about the long history of the animal world and fungi. He believes that perhaps our warm-blooded nature has evolved specifically to avoid fungal infections that may wipe out cold-blooded populations.

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