Surge of fungal infections but no vaccine



HBO’s hit series “The Last of Us” envisions a world decimated by a fungal apocalypse. It raises the question of why a vaccine for fungal infections does not exist. Fungal infections have increasingly appeared in the United States and people grow a fear for their health. Several factors play into the reason for their nonexistence. HBO’s hit series “The Last of Us” envisions a world decimated by a fungal apocalypse.

Lauren Lee, News editor

What we fear more than any pimple or scar, has increasingly become more common in the U.S: fungal infections. After seeing fungal infections like the one on  HBO’s “The Last of Us” the infections have concerned millions across the globe.

Fungi can come with various effects such as athlete’s foot or life-threatening bloodstream infections. In the US, hospitalizations and nearly 9 million outpatient visits each year came from fungal infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Candida auris, can put hospitalized and nursing home patients at risk.  Climate change contributes to infection-causing fungi more widespread. As we all know, bacterial thrives in hot and moist areas. These conditions can lead to Valley fever. Despite the growing threat, scientist have not created a vaccine to prevent these fungal infections.

“Fungus, typically found in the hot, dry soils of the Southwest, is an emerging threat. These are the most important infectious diseases that you have not heard of. A vaccine has the potential to move forward and protect a large swath of individuals,” immunologist and vaccine expert Karren Norris said.  

The experimental vaccine developed by Norris and her team created anti-fungal antibodies in animals. With funding support, the researchers could create human vaccine trials within the next five years. In Arizona, researchers focus on a vaccine to prevent Valley fever. Thus far, the vaccine shows effectiveness in dogs. Due to lack of funding, the vaccine develops much slowly than anticipated. Certain people do not see fungal vaccines as necessary for the sake of millions of lives. The viruses can put anyone in danger, creating the need for vaccines to prevent those diseases does remain crucial. Someone cam contract a fungal infection in the matter of seconds.

“There are so many different types of fungal infections so I don’t know if we’ll get a vaccine to cure each one or just one. If you can have something to eradicate the most common types of fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, I’m pretty sure it would be highly beneficial. But I think the reason there’s no vaccine for fungal infections is that they’re not that detrimental,” NC nurse Fikera Gerald said.