The Truth About Cordyceps

My bio blog today will be about fungus. Not just any kind of fungus. The type of fungus I will be blogging about today is called cordyceps. Cordyceps is a type of fungus that infects insects. The way it “infects” these insects is by taking over their entire body. Cordyceps’ only goal is to create more cordyceps. The most common victim of cordyceps are ants. The cordyceps virus will take over the brain of the ant (after the ant intakes a spore) and controls all of its body movements. after about a day, the infected ant will get as close the the colony as possible, then find the best place to die. After death, the cordyceps virus will will sprout out spore creators, then release tons of spores down upon the colony. This is how the cordyceps virus spreads. One might think that cordyceps would be harmful to humans, but as of right now, its anything but! Cordyceps is the source of the drug cyclosporine, which is helpful in organ transplants as it suppresses the immune system. So now that we know what cordyceps is, we can ponder about the future of the fungus. What would happen if the cordyceps virus was to spread to humans? What would we do if that were to happen? Cordyceps is the basis of a fairly recent video game titled “The Last of Us” This game takes a gander at those questions with a post apocalyptic world where humans have become infected with the virus. Cordyceps has infected more than just ants though. Many other insects have been infected with the deadly virus, including arachnids as big as tarantulas. Could this evolve into something bigger? Will we ever have to see people infected with this deadly virus? Do we have the medicines for this type of virus? Lots of questions have to be asked when put up with a question like that. We cannot fully understand this fungus because of the fact that we don’t know where it will spread next. As I said before, its only true goal is to infect other insects with the virus and create more of itself. Don’t worry though, its not like a disease can just jump from one animal to the next, or can it? an estimated 60% of all modern diseases have come from animals. Specifically ones that we live in close proximity to. From cattle grew measles, tuberculosis and smallpox. From pigs and birds grew the flu. and from chimpanzees grew AIDS. All of these started out as infections that couldn’t be spread to humans. Lucky enough for us, we don’t live in close contact with these ants and most people don’t eat ants, but other animals do, and from other animals could arise these viruses. This could end up like typhus, which started at rat fleas, then to rats, and then to humans. There is no need to worry though. The government has rules in place if a pandemic like this was to ever occur. The government uses the book called “The Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.” If this were to occur, only 2 million people would have to become infected before the governments rules would start to take place. That’s less than 1% of the humans population. I personally don’t believe that this would ever happen, but if it did, I think that the government would have the right steps in place for something that catastrophic.


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