World's first case: Kolkata man infected by deadly plant fungus

World's first case: Kolkata man infected by deadly plant fungus

The medical practitioners who are examining this case have documented their findings in the Medical Mycology Case Reports journal.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Friday, March 31, 2023, 09:41 PM IST
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chondrostereum purpureum |

A plant mycologist in Kolkata has become the first person to be diagnosed with a fungal illness that usually targets plants. Researchers highlight that this case demonstrates how plant fungal infections can be transmitted to humans through close contact with infected plants.

The medical practitioners who are examining this case have documented their findings in the Medical Mycology Case Reports journal. They report that the infected person, a 61-year-old man, visited a hospital in Kolkata after experiencing hoarseness, cough, fatigue, and difficulty swallowing for three months. However, the person's name remains undisclosed.

"The patient was also facing difficulty swallowing and anorexia for the last three months," researchers said.

"He had no history of diabetes, HIV infection, renal disease, any chronic disease, immunosuppressive drug intake, or trauma. The patient, a plant mycologist by profession, had been working with decaying material, mushrooms, and various plant fungi for a long time as part of his research activities."

Dr. Soma Dutta and Dr. Ujjwayini Ray of the Consultant Apollo Multispecialty Hospitals, Kolkata, who happen to be the researchers in this case, further explained in the report that "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."

"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."

"Recurrent exposure to the decaying material may be the cause of this rare infection."

"This fungal infection was evident from macroscopic and microscopic morphology, but the nature of infection, potentiality to disseminate, etc. could not be ascertained."

The doctors identified a neck abscess in the man and performed a surgical procedure to drain it. After this, an X-ray examination showed no unusual findings, and the patient was prescribed a round of antifungal medication.

The researches said: "After two years of follow-up, the patient was absolutely fine, and there is no evidence of recurrence."

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