Prologue to
"FUNGUS AMUNGUS"

The title looks Latin, but FUNGUS AMUNGUS really is not that esoteric; it's just a play on words bantered about by elementary school children during World War Two. Accent was on a hard G in each word. It really meant there's "fungus among us" and that's true here in the SASS area. When I was a kid, we laughed because we were so clever, but it isn't funny now, although my sense of humor was often the only attribute that saved me when all else was going down the drain during my long coexistence with fungiforms in the small section of Springfield, Missouri, where the deadly little demons were prolific... but so was I. As a Prologue to this Presentation, here is my version of FUNGI 101 as excerpted from The Concord Desk Encyclopedia (1977):


BACTERIA--unicellular microorganisms that are not viruses, even though most people don't know a virus from a bacterium because both can make you very sick. They differ from plant and animal cells in that their nucleus is not a distinct organelle surrounded by a membrane. Most exist independently of hosts and are involved in the decomposition of dead plant and animal matter. Some bacteria are parasitic, and their survival depends on their presence in or on other living cells. This means they can literally eat you alive, although it might take quite a while. Bacteria ate a small hole through my upper lip over a recent summer; other bacteria caused my lungs to remain full of thick mucous for six months on more than one occasion. Bacteria are one of nature's original Weapons of Mass Destruction, and areas prone to flooding and sewage spilIage are natural arsenals like the one around Manhole 13 in Springfield.


BACTERIAL DISEASES--diseases caused by bacteria or their products. Included are: Intestinal (Cramps, Diarrhea, Dysentery accompanied by fever and headache); Respiratory (Allergies, Asthma, Pneumonia); Urinary Tract (Cystitis, Pyelonephritis); Skin (Boils, Carbuncles, Cellulitis, Impetigo). A specific bacterium can cause a specific disease (Anthrax, Diptheria, Typhoid Fever) or bacteria growing in open wounds can cause, for example, Tetanus (also called Lockjaw).


FUNGI--{Plural of Fungus)--a multitude of simple life forms, believed to be of the Plant Kingdom, that reproduce mostly by spores and include everything from slime mold to yeasts (as in Yeast Infection). Common diseases caused in plants are Rust and Smut. In humans, a few pathogenic conditions include: Athlete's Foot, Chronic Lung Disease, Ringworm, Thrush, Tinea Cruris, and Toenail Fungus. Everything from mildew around your tub, mold in the floors and walls, and bright green mold that grows in your wet yard or driveway is part of the fungal family, as are mushroom-like growths that actually embed in wood and grow like viral tumors. I know, since rve have had them both.


MILDEW--general name for superficial growth of many types of fungi often found on plants and material derived from plants. Powdery mildews are caused by fungi belonging to the ASCOMYCETES order Erysiphales, the powdery effect being due to the masses of spores that commonly infest flowers and fruilts. Downy mildews are produced by PHYCOMYCETES that commonly infest vegetables.


MOLD--general name for a number of filamentous fungi that produce powdery or fluffY growths on fabric, foods and decaying plant or animal remains. Best known is the blue bread mold caused by PENICILLIUM, from which the antibiotic Penicillin was first discovered. Other types too numerous to name were discovered in my house, some more toxic than others. If I have them, you probably do, too.


VIRUS--submicroscopic parasitic organisms comprising a protein or protein lipid sheath containing nucleic acid (DNA or RNA). Viruses are inert outside living cells, but within appropriate cells they can replicate (using raw material parasitized from the cell). I interpret this to mean they are nature's original self-reproducing clones. Viral infections usually last a short time, until their lifespans end, but when embedded in one's cells, as in the case of my viral tumors, they become part of that person and can be as deadly as if they are malignant because they--like the City of Springfield and surrounding communities--just keep growing and growing and growing.



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