Zygomycosis often lives in the soil and releases spores that people can breathe in through their noses.
Imagine breathing the air and inhaling fungi that can eat away at your brain.
It may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but one mycologist says people in Vancouver are breathing in this strange fungus on a daily basis.
Zygomycosis often lives in the soil and releases spores that people can breathe in through their noses. When this happens, the spores travel through a network of threads called mycelium and settle in your nasal passages, where the real trouble begins.
Mycelium grows in people’s eye sockets and brains, resulting in a rare disease called rhinocephalic mucormycosis, which causes “nosebleeds, swollen sinuses, and bulging eyes,” Mary Barbee told VIA. , “spreads rapidly and is often fatal.”
How often do people inhale this deadly fungus?
Barbie, a professor in the botany department at the University of British Columbia (UBC), says people are breathing in zygomycosis and many other types of fungi every day in the city.
“You are breathing [zygomycosis] right now. [You’ll be] I’m inhaling thousands of them today,” she explained.
Although it sounds alarming that humans routinely inhale “brain-eating” fungi, most of them do not breed in the human body and cause problems. They need cooler temperatures to survive and our natural body temperature protects us.
“It’s a miracle of the human immune system that you’re breathing in so much of these substances. [fungi] If you do that every day, you won’t get sick,” she said.
Art imitates life on the popular zombie TV show – sort of
the last of us is a popular TV show about a post-apocalyptic world in which people try to survive after a pandemic caused by a fungal outbreak that turns people into zombie-like creatures. However, Barbie explained that one type of fungus cannot survive at mammalian body temperatures.
“The other thing that’s really important is that our skin protects us,” she adds, noting that most microorganisms can’t invade our skin; pointed out that it has natural water repellency.
However, if the fungus is able to invade the skin, the immune system detects the sugars on the fungus’ outer wall and mounts a defense. Itching with a fungal infection means that the human body is preparing to fight it.
“Your body is fiercely fighting back against this invader, so your immune cells can surround and usually kill the invading fungal cells,” she said.
Are some people at higher risk of developing rhinocephalic mucormycosis?
Barbie emphasized that this fungal disease is extremely rare. But people with weakened immune systems, including people with diabetes, are most at risk. However, this usually applies to people with “uncontrolled” diabetes.
In some parts of the world, such as India, the prevalence of uncontrolled diabetes is high.
“Changes in the body’s metabolism” [from diabetes] It’s exactly what your body needs to grow,” she explained.
People who have undergone a whole organ transplant, such as a heart or liver, are also at increased risk of developing this rare disease.
What are the symptoms of the disease?
The infection can start with a fever and a severe sinus headache, but Barbee cautions that people exhibiting these flu symptoms shouldn’t rush to the emergency room.
However, these initial symptoms are followed by an alarming progression of symptoms, with the face becoming swollen and the flesh turning black after death.
Due to the high mortality rate from this disease, people suspected of infection require prompt treatment.
Locals who want to check out this interesting mushroom can see it up close in the city, but the smell may not be your cup of tea. When it rains, the dog’s feces “provides a good nutritional environment for the dog to grow,” and fungi begin to grow. Barbie said it would look like “the hair that grows on poop.”
Looking for a less aggressive spot? Rotting pumpkins from post-Halloween festivities may also be providing ideal conditions for pesky fungi.