The advent of ‘The Last of Us’ adaptation has brought back the question of whether a mushroom, in its case Ophiocardyceps, so capable of unleashing a zombie apocalypseOn the grounds that they are capable of infecting a person, and unlike disease-causing viruses, they can alter the minds of their victims.
In the series they focus on counting abilities of Cordycepsa fungus another real life inspiredThe ophiocardiceps unilateral, of which there are 400 or 500 different species. While this will not cause the effects seen in the audio-visual material, what will happen in other cases is documented. One of the most famous is that of zombie ants, presented in a BBC documentary called “Planet Earth”.
In this material you can see Ophiocardyceps Infecting the brain of ants, controlling them and leading them to some plants so that they cut their stem, after which they die. Later, fungus grows around it and thus become dispersal of spores, which end up in entire colonies.
Another example is the invasion of snails. leucochloridium paradoxwho undergo a physical change that changes their eyes and after the parasite takes control of their body, they expose it to the sun and They become easy prey for birdsGrowing inside them and once expelled from the bird, they continue their life cycle.
Fungi, Epidemics and Strange Behavior
In the case of humans, things change, not with fungi, but with some “weird” behaviors. Perhaps the most famous case is that of the “Dancing Epidemic of 1518”, where a woman named Trofea stood in the middle of a street in Strasbourg and began to dance. For three days without any explanation.
At the end of a week, another 34 people joined and within a month, there were about 400 people Dancing in the City eventually resulted in the deaths of about 15 people from heart attacks, seizures, or exhaustion, without any specific cause that triggered it.
There are similar examples in Kolbigk (Saxony), where in 1021 18 people started dancing on Christmas Eve, nor in other places such as Erfurt or Maastricht in 1247, although there are additional cases in other countries such as Switzerland and France.
One of the most accepted explanations is that they are caused by a fungus, specifically ergot, which readily contaminates rye and causes “ergotism”, also known as “San Antonio fires”. Is known. Furthermore, since LSD is synthesized from ergot, it is possible that outbreaks of ergotism he gave himself up for bad breadwhich caused the epidemic.
However, a major problem with this explanation is that the chemicals in ergot can cause seizures and hallucinationsAlthough its very unlikely that they would cause hundreds of people to die dancing for days.
In addition, there have also been strange behaviors recently. For example, there is the case of three girls who laughed in a town on Lake Tanganyika in January 1962, although little later there were 95 youths from the same school. The laughter lasted for 16 days and triggered an epidemic with thousands of cases and fourteen school closures.
We also see an epidemic of fainting in the West Bank in 1983, which 943 hospitalized without finding any obvious reason.
realistic possibilities of extreme behavior
This is quite different from the existence of mushrooms like in ‘The Last of Us’, although all cases of anomalous behavior point to the same thing: We didn’t understand the reason of what happened, Motivating people to take certain actions. It also raises the possibility that infected people end the lives of others rather than dance, laugh or make out, or do something more extreme, such as biting people and scavenging their brains for food.
Although these cases are slightly off the premise of the game and series, they are in fact examples where valid possibilities can be appreciated that a strange phenomenon occurs, some mass hysteria where humanity can go insane, do strange things, but is eventually overcome, as in the title.