If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
In the hit show ‘The Last of Us,’ the world is hit by a parasitic fungus that alters human minds, like the kind of fungi that actually do exist in real life and direct the behavior of insects. Right now, humans can’t be affected by that fungus because it can’t survive at our higher body temperature. That said, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a world where it evolves (especially since climate change is forcing lots of organisms to adapt to survive at higher temps). And there are already fungi that impact human behavior (magic mushrooms, for one) and others that make healthy people sick (like the ones that cause Valley Fever, among others). What’s particularly interesting is that in ‘The Last of Us’, the fungus got into a flour production facility, and that flour made it into lots of things that hit the shelves around the same time. That threat is certainly reflected in real life by things like E.coli and Listeria outbreaks from infected food products. Long story short - the specific parasitic pandemic in the HBO series is not likely, but the idea of a fungal pandemic, in general, is certainly possible, especially given the rise in multi-drug resistant fungi in recent years. Still, rest assured that it probably won’t look quite as zombie-like as the one you’re seeing on TV, and likely wouldn’t be able to control our minds - thank goodness!
As eggs are becoming hard to find on grocery store shelves, individuals and families are turning to backyard coops as a consistent source. But chickens can spread disease, and it’s important to be aware of the risks to ensure that you’re keeping yourself and your birds safe. There are five main risks for humans: E.coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, bird flu, and Histoplasmosis (caused by breathing in a fungus found in soil with bird or bat poop). E.Coli, Campy, and Salmonella involve GI symptoms including diarrhea (sometimes bloody), stomach cramps, or vomiting. Histoplasmosis and bird flu can cause flu-like symptoms. To stay safe around backyard birds, practice the following safety guidelines:
If an employee shows signs of severe GI illness and has backyard poultry, treat it as though it’s an E.coli or Salmonella situation until you find out otherwise. Sanitize thoroughly if they worked sick, and ensure sick employees stay home.
First, it’s important to establish the facts - were they actually exposed to someone with active TB? Testing positive on a skin test for TB doesn’t necessarily mean that you have active TB, so it’s relatively common for people to mistakenly report exposure. If the employee was truly exposed to someone with active TB, which spreads through respiratory droplets via coughing, speaking, sneezing, etc., they can continue to work while they get tested, as long as they’re symptom-free. An exposed person isn’t spreading TB right away, which is good news. They should go get a TB skin or blood test and be sure to tell the medical professional that they’ve been exposed. They should also monitor themself for symptoms over the next weeks and months, including cough, chest pain, loss of appetite, and fever. Importantly for businesses, TB does not spread via surfaces, like using a bathroom, touching surfaces, or shaking hands, and it rarely spreads outside because it can’t survive in sunlight.