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I believe that some types of fungal/viral/other infections have a life cycle in which they kill a host entity (possibly plant or animal), and then around that time they also "bloom" or "erupt" from that entity, spreading widely (so as to infect others). I'm looking for a phrase to describe this and use it as a metaphor or simile; preferably describing a case that would be visible (and unpleasant) to the naked eye. For example:

Before the company went bankrupt, it filed many lawsuits, sabotaged the oversight commission, and started daily spam-advertising to all its customers. It was like _________.

Edit: Thanks to @cobaltduck in the comments for linking to the specific biological process of which I was thinking but couldn't name: Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (or "zombie fungus").

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It was like a plague? – BiscuitBoy Jan 25 at 17:35
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Contagion figurative the spreading of a harmful idea or theory. "the contagion of disgrace" – NVZ Jan 25 at 17:39
    
Just as a bit of tangential information, I believe the type of phenomenon described in the question is similar to this. Have a nice day! – cobaltduck Jan 25 at 18:42
    
@cobaltduck: That's exactly what I was thinking of, but for the life of me I couldn't remember the name for it. Thank you! – Daniel R. Collins Jan 25 at 19:04
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I'd be inclined towards "contagion", as suggested by NVZ. – Hot Licks Jan 25 at 20:23

ContagionM-W

a : rapid communication of an influence (as a doctrine or emotional state)
b : an influence that spreads rapidly

"It was like a contagion."
"the contagion of disgrace"

Simply put, it means the spreading of a harmful idea or theory.

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Metastasize can explain the spreading, although no one word completes your example sentence.

to spread injuriously to transform, especially into a dangerous form

There isn't a single word solution for your sentence, but something like

It was like a cancer metastasizing.

comes close.

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How should OP word it in his quote? :) – NVZ Jan 25 at 18:06
    
I considered that initially, but my understanding is that literally refers to within-the-body only ("to spread to other parts of the [same] body", per link). I'm looking for a spreading process which is literally external and visible. – Daniel R. Collins Jan 25 at 18:12
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@DanielR.Collins That's only the cancer definition. From the link, you can also see "The KGB metastasized after the fall of the Soviet Union.", meaning that it spread outside to USSR, and "Truth metastasized into lurid fantasy." – jimm101 Jan 25 at 18:25
    
@jimm101: I disagree that sentence implies the KGB spread outside the USSR (which in fact it did not). Again, I'm looking for a pathology description of externality to a body. – Daniel R. Collins Jan 25 at 19:13

Consider,

pustulation

The formation or appearance of pustules. The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary

carbunculosis

A condition marked by the formation of numerous carbuncles. Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health

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It was proliferating or mushrooming like a virus.

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"Mushrooming like a virus" mixes metaphors, though. – 200_success Jan 25 at 21:48
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No, I doubt that. Mixing metaphors requires taking a full metaphor and putting two things together. For example: in the phrase: I have no dog in ths fight, one would say: I have no dog in this circus. The use of like pretty much precludes a mixed metaphor. It was raining aunts and bob's your uncle. – Lambie Jan 25 at 23:48

I'll take a stab at answering my own question thanks to the link that @cobaltduck provided, something like:

  • Zombie fungus
  • Rupturing spores
  • Fruiting body

I'm not totally thrilled with any of these, though; maybe there's something better.

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But do those species names mean a particular phase? – NVZ Jan 26 at 0:51
    
How would you fill in the sentence - _customers. It was like... _ – NVZ Jan 26 at 0:52

In epidemiology, infections that spread at the expense of their host, harming or even killing it in the process, are said to be virulent.

The most virulent stage of an infection usually corresponds to the period of highest transmissibility, for obvious reasons — it does the pathogen no good to risk killing off its host, unless doing so helps it spread to new hosts. Conversely, if the host is about to die anyway, it becomes essential for the infection to spread itself to new hosts, or it will also die when the host does.

Alas, the word "virulent" won't fit your example sentence as written, since it calls for a noun phrase rather than an adjective. That said, something like "a virulent parasite bursting out of its dying host" should certainly be evocative enough.

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