Kolkata man is world's first human to be infected by killer plant fungus
The first case of a potentially deadly fungal infection caused by plants was discovered in a man from Kolkata. The 61-year-old, a plant mycologist, complained of a recurring couch, hoarseness of voice, difficulty swallowing, a sore throat and fatigue for three months.
He had no history of diabetes, HIV infection, renal disease, any chronic disease, immunosuppressive drug intake, or trauma. The man, who wasn't named had been working with decaying material, mushrooms, and various plant fungi for a long time as part of his research activities, said doctors in the journal Medical Mycology Case Reports.
Doctors performed an X-ray and CT scans on the man. The X-ray on the chest came back "normal", but the CT scan results showed a paratracheal abscess in his neck.
Paratracheal abscesses can block airways and lead to life-threatening infections, which can be deadly if not caught and treated quickly.
Doctors removed the pus and sent a sample for testing to the "WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference & Research on Fungi of Medical Importance", where he was diagnosed with Chondrostereum purpureum.
"Chondrostereum purpureum is a plant fungus that causes silver leaf disease in plants, particularly those in the rose family. This is the first instance of a plant fungus causing disease in a human. Conventional techniques (microscopy and culture) failed to identify the fungus," the report added.
"Only through sequencing could the identity of this unusual pathogen be revealed. This case highlights the potential of environmental plant fungi to cause disease in humans and stresses the importance of molecular techniques to identify the causative fungal species," it said.
The patient received a course of antifungal medication, and after two years of follow-up, the patient was absolutely fine, and there is no evidence of recurrence," the researchers wrote.