The popular game and television show The Last of Us shows us what it might be like to live through an apocalypse. But could that really be possible?



A zombie-like head contorted into a scream as fungus grow all over its body and ants crawl around the page.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world like a video game? Some might imagine living in a world like Minecraft or Animal Crossing, and believe it to be peaceful. Others might rather live in a world of action, like Halo. But what about horror? Does anyone wonder about what it might be like to be stuck in a world that only has bad things happen?

The Last of Us is both a game and television series that puts its main focus on surviving in a world that has been taken over by zombies and the apocalypse. Both the show and the game have very high ratings. A lot of people have come to enjoy the series that focuses on zombies, and the fungus virus that has taken over their minds. The television series is based off of the game, which was developed in 2013 by the company Naughty Dog.

The game introduced a disease that was seen as pretty unique among zombie-type horror. In both media, the humans become transformed by fungus taking over their bodies with the sole purpose to spread. But something that holds the game above a lot of others like it is the fact that certain types of fungus do the exact same thing in real life. In recent years, scientists have found a type of fungus called the Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis, which has been seen in the bodies of fire ants in the Amazon rainforest. The fungus essentially takes over the body of an ant, and slowly takes over its behavior. The only purpose it has is to spread the fungus. The ants become mindless “zombies”. And while ants are pretty small, the fact that there is a fungus with the ability to take over a being is enough to raise concern. This specific fungus has been found to only affect this certain species of ant, but it’s not to say that the fungus couldn’t develop into being able to take over other species.

With everything mentioned in this article, it sets up the big question: is it possible that a fungus like the Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis could inhabit humans? Could it be possible for something similar to happen to us, in the real world, as it did in The Last of Us? Scientists say it is very unlikely that there is going to be a rise in fungal viruses, as the temperature of the earth heats up. They most likely won’t function like the fungus found in Amazonian fire ants. But these fungi are adapting more to warmer temperatures. The average body temperature in a human is about 98.6 degrees fahrenheit. If fungus becomes more adapted to warmer temperatures, it’s not so far of a reach to say it would get used to it enough to be able to withstand the hot temperatures in a human body.

…is it possible that a fungus
like the Ophiocordyceps
Unilateralis could inhabit

Now despite researchers saying that we most likely will never see the rise of a zombie apocalypse from a fungus, there is still the threat of new viruses being found and causing problems for humanity. This brings in a topic that is seen time and time again in a lot of topics across the nation: global warming. A lot of issues tie into global warming. As more toxins are released into the air that trap the sun’s heat in, water levels begin to rise, ice melts, and hotter summers start becoming more frequent. Viruses have a tendency to adapt pretty quickly to their environments. With global warming, they will become a lot easier to be inhabited by.

So what’s the second part to this? Recently, there has been a large rise of a certain type of fungus being found in human bodies. The fungus, called Candida Auris, tends to affect immunocompromised people the most. Those who are relatively healthy should be fine. While the average person might instead be a carrier, if they have a healthier body, they might not see any symptoms at all. But being able to spread the virus to those who will get affected by it is still bad. One thing that makes this fungus a lot more notable than past fungal viruses is the fact that it is drug-resistant. And as reported by the Center of Disease Control, it has been rising at a very alarming rate within United States’ health care facilities. About one of every three patients who contract the virus die. And the virus has been found in about half of the states across the nation.

The rise of this fungal virus has been a cause for alarm among CDC researchers and scientists, who believe that it will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years. But as Dr. Waleed Javaid from Mount Sinai Downtown in New York said, “‘…we don’t want people who watched ‘The Last of Us’ to think we’re all going to die… This is an infection that occurs in extremely ill individuals who are usually sick with a lot of other issues.’” 

So is there a reason to believe that this may bring the start of ‘The Last of Us’ in our world today? No, and research has shown that it is more than highly unlikely. But rising temperatures will continue to cause us problems regarding deadly viruses and infections.