On September 27, 2019, a captive African lion living in a zoo in Kansas died. Sahar only lived about one-half of his normal life expectancy before he died abruptly of a condition called “encephalitis.” Veterinarians have yet to disclose the species of fungus that caused the sores (lesions) and inflammation to develop in Sahar’s brain and one lung, but his death got me thinking. Would Sahar be alive today if one veterinarian prescribed an antifungal medication for him?
No one is quite certain how many lions or humans die of encephalitis annually, but the symptoms seem to come on suddenly and death can follow quickly. The symptoms mimic the flu initially, but as we noted in Sahar’s case, lesions and brain inflammation were later discovered. Do you know how many humans have lesions or swelling on or in their bodies? Millions and millions of us do. After all, what are polyps or ovarian cysts or migraine headaches? But fungus is never blamed for these conditions and so often medical records state, “unknown etiology,” or “we don’t know why it is there, but it is.”
Finally, the cause of Sahar’s was identified, but so often this occurs after death. His death was reported weeks after he actually died. That is how much time is required to grow fungus out on a petri dish and accurately diagnose the cause. What is the harm of putting a lion or a human on an antifungal drug the second that lesions, or inflammation is seen?
Doesn’t yeast act as a catalyst to make bread rise? Isn’t that the very definition of inflammation? I sometimes think we have become far too technical in our understanding of illness. It’s not going to sell many drugs, but sometimes diet underlies our most difficult diseases. This is because yeast and fungi parasitize we humans, and lions too, and once onboard they require carbohydrates to survive. An antifungal diet might make all the difference in the world.