CDC Warns of "Urgent" Threat From Rapidly Spreading Fungus

As if an invaded fungus wasn't already on our minds thanks to HBO's wildly popular The Last of Us, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of a looming real-life threat. According to a new paper published by the CDC, the rapidly-accelerating Candida auris poses an "urgent threat" because of its antimicrobial resistance. The outfit says the fungus spread throughout healthcare facilities rapidly beginning in 2021 and now exists in over half of the states in the country.

"The rapid rise and geographic spread of cases is concerning and emphasizes the need for continued surveillance, expanded lab capacity, quicker diagnostic tests, and adherence to proven infection prevention and control," CDC epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Lyman said in the paper.

As a part of the paper, 3,270 clinical cases were identified in 2016, meaning that many patients have been found to be infected with the Candida auris virus in the first year it was discovered. Since then, clinical cases have risen steadily over the years, with an additional 4,041 cases reported as recently as 2021.

The most common symptoms of the viral infection are a high fever and chills that don't improve with an antibiotic treatment. Other symptoms could manifest if the infection were to spread throughout the body.

Could The Last of Us outbreak actually happen?

While the science is there that proves a Cordyceps outbreak could theoretically happen, the series did take certain liberties with its storytelling efforts.

"One of the changes that Neil [Druckmann] and I felt we needed to make early on was the way the fungus would spread. Obviously, we did a lot of research on fungus and cordyceps. Neil and Naughty Dog of course had gone through a lot of that stuff as well," showrunner Craig Mazin previously said of the show. "We started looking at something called mycelium, which are these threads that make up fungus. In the game, it spreads through biting and saliva, but it also can spread through the air, through spores. And while that works in a video game environment, in real life, spores move around everywhere. And it's just harder to but into the notion that spores localize and don't spread."

For more Last of Us content, check out ComicBook and Entertainment Tonight's new podcast: The Last of Pods. The podcast includes breakdowns of each episode, interviews with special guests from the show, and more. The first season The Last of Us is now streaming in its entire on HBO Max. The Last of Pods is available where podcasts can be heard.