A deadly fungal infection known as ‘Valley Fever’ that kills one in 100 sufferers is currently spreading across the United States. And holy shit, when we said we wanted to touch Pedro Pascal, that wasn’t an invitation to just literally recreate a fungal apocalyptic nightmare, dudes.
Cases of ‘Valley Fever’ have risen 20-fold since the turn of the century and scientists think the increased numbers are due to climate change.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that sound eerily similar to the damn plot from The Last of Us? The show where fungus evolved because of rising temperatures and later infected the entire planet in less than a weekend with a rabid zombie-like infection??? That one??????
97 per cent of cases have been found in the southwest in Arizona and California thanks to their warm, dry environments. But it has steadily begun to spread to other parts of the US, with experts fearing that it could be endemic in 17 states by 2100.
A study published by GeoHealth estimates that Valley Fever could reach the Canadian border as a result of world’s changing climate. And like, great. Excellent. Fantastic news.
Morgan Gorris, who penned the study, issued a warning on NBC News about the threat or coccidioides fungi. “As the temperatures warm up, and the western half of the US stays quite dry, our desert-like soils will kind of expand and these drier conditions could allow coccidioides to live in new places”.
Valley Fever is caused by breathing in spores from the fungus coccidioides. These spores usually sit undisturbed in the ground, but can be uprooted by construction, heavy wind, or even walking, which lifts them into the air.
The scary thing is that many people with Valley Fever might not even know they have it. Symptoms often look quite similar to your standard respiratory virus infection, with cough, fatigue, fever, and shortness of breath as some of the telltale signs.
TBH, it’s not very fun-guy of them.
Devin Buckley was diagnosed with the disease after he started to feel ill in February 2018 and told NBC that he was surprised something so serious wasn’t better known.
“When I first got diagnosed, the word cancer was going around with some of the doctors — like they were screening me for that,” he said.
“So it just goes to show you how serious of a disease it is if doctors seeing it think the first thing I have is cancer.”
Whilst many infections are mild, clean up on their own, and can’t be passed between people, we’re still sufficiently freaked the fuck out.
And while The Last of Us may have Ellie as a potential saviour and cure for humanity, scientists haven’t been quite as lucky (yet).
A vaccine for Valley Fever has been in the works since the 60s, with no word on how potential vaccines will help us humans. One trial from the University of Arizona College of Medicine is currently being tested on dogs, who also happen to be susceptible to Valley Fever.
And honestly, the fungus can infect us humans all you like. But leave the damn dogs out of it.
If a human trial is approved, Dr. John Galgiani, director of the Valley Fever Center For Excellence, believes that a human vaccine could be available in eight years — and that’s an optimistic estimation.
Dr. George Thompson, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, spoke to NBC with a warning.
“I think fungi are really the coming superbugs. I think they’re really the ones that are going to be problematic over the next decade. And Valley Fever is going to be a key part of that,” he said.
“They are really here to stay. This battle is sort of just beginning.”
Amazing! So in 2023, we’ve got a fantastic end-of-the-world tickbox going on. We’re the closest to the world ending that we’ve ever been, and we have a killer The Last of Us-inspired fungal infection that’s running rampant in America.
The only slight silver lining of this apocalypse thing is that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to roam the fall of civilisation with my hot daddy Pedro Pascal to protect me. A girl can dream.
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