February 25th, 2016

Plausibility check: zombie fungus

I have been working on my fungal zombies for a while (here are some previous questions about them), and am trying to figure out some details of the biology of the fungus without straining the laws of nature *too* terribly far. So I figure I'd bounce my thoughts off of y'all's brains, and see if anything seems Just Plain Wrong or whatever. To the extent it matters, location is now-ish, and in the US. I've probably looked up too many things to count, and some of this is just from memory of biology classes and suchlike. I'm mostly just looking for a plausibility check, so I can minimize my handwaves.

Things I need:
A fungus that can infect healthy people, but cause minimal to no symptoms until the patient dies of something else (the fungus will not kill you, except perhaps in very rare cases). I'm ok with, eg, something kind of like a cold or whatever upon initial infection, as long as it goes away after a week or so, and with the resource drain you'd expect from any parasite (eg the host has to eat more), but not any symptom that would be a significant nuisance to a well-fed person.
For same to be relatively easy to transmit by fluid-to-fluid contact (eg bites, kissing, sex), but relatively difficult to spread by any other method (eg coughing)
For same to be capable of very rapid growth, under at least some circumstances (eg I need a newly infected and killed person to be contagious within a few minutes)
For same to, in essence, turn the body into a meat puppet when the host dies.

Rambling list of problems I can think of, and potential solutionsCollapse )

Any problems you think I missed? Any problems with the solutions to the problems? Any suggestions for better solutions? Any other thoughts?