A man in India recently had the misfortune of becoming the first recorded person in the world to fall ill from a fungus that commonly attacks rose plants. The case appears to be a rare example of a plant pathogen entering humans. Fortunately, the infection was treatable, but the incident may illustrate the growing danger that the fungus will pose to humans in the coming years, doctors say.
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There were strange medical stories Details Medical Mycology Case Report This Month. The 61-year-old man visited an outpatient clinic in India with cough, fatigue, sore throat and difficulty swallowing for three months, the report said. Initial examination soon revealed an abscess (a swollen pocket of pus, often indicating infection) on the right side of his windpipe.
Examination of the pus did not reveal any of the usual bacteria suspected, but doctors found the presence of a type of fungus, which was later confirmed by growing it in a petri dish. After sending their samples to another lab affiliated with the World Health Organization, they discovered the likely culprit: a fungus called Chondrosterium purpureum.
C. purpureum Causes diseases called silver leaf Among plants, it commonly infects plants and trees belonging to the rose family, including those responsible for producing cherries and plums. The fungus can easily grow on dead or dying wood, but when it gets onto healthy living plants, it often ends up killing them, slowly turning their leaves silver in the process.
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Bacteria and other microbes can sometimes jump from one species to another and cause illness. But the less evolutionarily related two living things are to each other, the harder it is for their parasites to cross. Pathogens evolve over long periods of time to adapt to their hosts, and the specific strategies they use to infect and survive inside a plant, for example, are unlikely to work in a human or other animal. This is perhaps even more true for fungi, since our body temperatures are too warm for most species to thrive.
As far as the report’s authors know, this is the first report of human infection C. purpureum. Some fungi can routinely infect and make people sick, but these infections tend to occur in people who are immunocompromised. This particular case became even stranger, since the man had a healthy immune system.
Researchers hypothesized that it was the person’s actions that made him vulnerable to infection. He was a plant mycologist – in other words, a fungus scientist. And though he said he never studied C. purpureum On his own, he worked on decaying plant material and other fungi in his research. They assumed that he was It was that the fungus was exposed enough times somehow Able to cross species barriers.
“Repeated exposure to decaying material may cause this rare infection,” the doctors wrote.
Fortunately, the man did much better than the typical rose infected with silver leaf. Her pus was drained and she was put on two months of antifungal medication. Her symptoms cleared up and, two years later, she had no signs of recurrent infections.
While this case is very likely a fluke, the report’s authors note that the past few decades have seen a reported increase in human fungal pathogens. Some scientists even theorize it Our warming climate Some fungi are able to become more suitable for humans, although this is still an actively debated hypothesis. And if plant fungi can rarely cross over and infect humans or other animals, it’s a discovery with “important implications for the evolution of infectious diseases.” Much more research needs to be done to study the potential mechanisms involved in this “cross-kingdom” transmission, they add.