Can Cordyceps Infect Humans?

Can Cordyceps Infect Humans?

Deep within the jungle, a fungus has risen to infect creatures, turning them into zombies. This deadly fungus, known as the cordyceps, has the power to wipe out an entire species.

What if you were to get this fungus on yourself, either through touching your skin, or simply breathing it. Can cordyceps turn you into a zombie? What will that do to your body. And how likely is this happening to you?

Cordyceps works by having its spores land on the insects body and implant themselves into its muscles. The spores then take over the insect, forcing it to migrate to an area ideal for the fungus to replicate. The fungus forces the insect to climb to a desired height, bite down on a leaf or stem, allowing the fungus fruiting body to grow out of the body of its host.

And it will stay there, too, until it dies. The parasite will eat from the creature, growing over a period of weeks, then release more spores and infect more insects.

Now, how will that work if this happens to you? If this fungal pest can hop from bug to person, then this is probably going to be an airborne infection. Places such as cities, mass transit, and tunnels would be all danger zones in which the cordyceps fungus could be spread easily from person to person. It is very possible the fungus will attack your body just as it does with every other pest.

When you are first infected, you will start feeling a few symptoms you may have felt before. A fever, stomachaches, weakness, and vomiting are all possible effects.

You may even notice that you are feeling drowsy, because cordyceps may impact dopamine levels. Some of those effects may be familiar, but the one that is not is the way that the fungus will travel throughout your body. As time went by, the fungus would begin taking over your nervous system. Because you are much bigger than things like insects, it would take months before Cordyceps took full control of you.

As that happens, the fungus will grow all over your arms and legs. When it has spread enough throughout your body, it could take over you. You could try to do everything in your power to fend it off, but once it is in your system, there is not much you can really do. Your brain will still run, but you will not control what it does. After all, Cordyceps main goal is to disperse as much as possible.

And in order to do this, it will suck you into a closed off area, where it can grow, then expand even farther into your body. After a couple weeks, you would die inside this place. And now that you are dead, the fungus, the cordyceps, could keep spreading, turning you into something called fruiting bodies. That is when spores and the fungus will begin coming out of you.

They would come out from anywhere where there was no solid bone blocking their path. And now that it is happened, the fungus and the spores could spread further, contaminating more and more people. Fortunately, we do not need to fear this kind of thing happening to us. Cordyceps cannot infect humans, because our bodies are better than the insects at fighting off the pathogen. In fact, Cordyceps is extremely beneficial to humans, and is commonly consumed as a supplement. Basically it’s just like any old mushroom.

So you can relax knowing that you won’t become a zombie because of this stuff.

About the author

Bruce Wilson

I've studied Mycology and Forest Pathology and love creating content to help other learn more about my passion. Follow along as I continue to explore the amazing world of functional fungi!

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