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‘Last of Us’: Step-by-step story of how an Indian mushroom hunter became first victim of rare fungal Silver Leaf disease

2 months ago 36

New Delhi: As if a leaf out of the post-apocalyptic drama series ‘Last of Us’, where not a virus, but a fungus takes over the world, a man from India, a mushroom hunter, has become the unfortunate first human to contract a deadly and rare fungal infection caused by Rose killing fungus.

Called Chondrostereum purpureum, the fungus attacks rose plants, afflicts them with a rare disease called Silver Leaf disease.

But, how did this Indian man become the first human host of this fungus?

How did man get infected with Rose killing fungus?

Turns out, a person in India recently became unlucky enough to become the world’s first person to get sick from the fungi. This is also one of the rarest examples of a plant pathogen crossing over into humans.

The strange medical incident was detailed in Medical Mycology Case Reports, according to which, the hexagenarian visited an outpatient clinic in India with symptoms of cough, fatigue, sore throat which had plaguing him for close to three months. Tests revealed he had an abscess along the right side of his windpipe.

Here’s what doctors found

While testing the pus did not yield any common bacterial suspects, but the doctors discovered a fungal presence, which was then confirmed by growing in a petri dish. Once it was sent to the World Health Organization (WHO), they discovered it was the fungus called Chondrostereum purpureum.

What is Chondrostereum purpureum?

The fungus causes a disease called silver leaf in plants which predominantly attacks the rose family. The fungus easily grows on dead or dying wood, but when it latches on to healthy living plants, it eventually kills them, turning the leaves silver in the process.

This was the first time a human has been infected with Chondrostereum purpureum. While fungal infections usually occur with people who are immunocompromised, this was the first time that it hit a man with a healthy immune system.

Also Read: ‘Last of Us’: Rare fungal ailment, called Silver Leaf disease, finds first-ever victim in India’s mushroom hunter

The research states that it was in fact the man’s profession which compromised him into infection. He was a plant mycologist—a fungi scientist who worked with decaying plant material and other fungi in his research. They hypothesize that he was exposed to the fungus enough times that it was somehow able to overcome the species barrier.

Road to recovery

However, luckily for the man, he fared better than the rose plant. He had his pus drained and was placed on two months of antifungal medication after which his symptoms cleared and after two years he did not show any recurrent infection.

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