‘The Last of Us’ in real life?
According to studies, increasing temperatures could spread fungal infections. While ‘The Last of Us’ is a work of fiction, a growing body of real-world research suggests severe fungal infections are increasing, which may be related to climate change
One of the most suspenseful scenes in the HBO series “The Last of Us” comes in its pilot episode, when a scientist predicts that the end of the world won’t come from a viral pandemic, but rather, a fungal one. Smash cut to several decades later — on the show, that is — and a dangerous fungi has mutated to turn most of the human race into monsters whose sole drive is to spread the infection even further.
Of course, this is a work of fiction based on the hit PlayStation videogame of the same name. (There’s also a similar plot in the bestselling 2014 novel “The Girl with All the Gifts,” which was adapted into a 2016 movie.) And many scientists on the HBO show note that the average human body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is far too hot for most fungi to survive in the human body.
However, it is indicated on the show that some potentially deadly fungi could adapt to live in hotter habitats, such as the human body, if the globe were to warm up. And that’s something that, according to a growing body of empirical study, may occur in real life, but without spawning hordes of monsters that resemble zombies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7,199 Americans are expected to have died from fungi in 2021, up from just 450 deaths in this category in 1969. Infections caused by fungi result in more than 75,000 hospital admissions each year in the United States. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen an upsurge in the amount of fatal fungal infections.