A superfungus could be the next global health threat – so are we ready?

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Cordyceps is the real-life fungus at the centre of dystopian drama The Last of Us – just how dangerous are such pathogens?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of an ‘increasing fungal threat’ to human health
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of an ‘increasing fungal threat’ to human health

If you type ‘zombie ants’ into a search engine you should brace yourself for a nasty surprise. You’ll find videos showing the industrious little critters becoming possessed, controlled and ultimately torn apart by a fungus called Cordyceps.

Its spores do not kill immediately; instead they seize control of the ant from within, marching them up trees and shoots to where there is light and warmth enough for the fungus to multiply. Finally, in scenes reminiscent of the sci-fi film Alien, the fungus bursts from the ant’s exhausted corpse, raining fresh spores onto its healthy colleagues below. 

In this way, a single zombie worker ant can be used by the cunning Cordyceps fungus to wipe out an entire colony. 

When I first stumbled across one of these videos on Twitter a few years back I was sceptical. Moulds may discolour the shower-room grout from time to time and, yes, Boots does sell a fair bit of antifungal cream. But a fungus infecting a living creature and then forcing it to do its bidding? It all sounded a bit unlikely.

READ ON BELOW…

A superfungus could be the next global health threat – so are we ready?

Leave a Reply