Man dies after inhaling deadly garden fungus

Backyard gardener dies after inhaling fungal spores

PARIS, June 12, 2008 (AFP) – An otherwise healthy 47-year-old man fell horribly ill and died within 10 days after inhaling fungal spores that had grown in a bag of gardening mulch, according to a study released Friday.

The man, whose identity was not revealed, showed up at the Wycombe Hospital in High Wycombe, Britain, last month complaining of chest pains, shortness of breath and a nasty cough.

Doctors as first suspected pneumonia, possibly aggravated by a history of smoking and his profession as a welder. They prescribed two powerful antibiotics, and then a third when the symptoms continued.

The patient was transferred within 24 hours to an intensive care unit when intubation failed to provide adequate oxygen to his body tissues, and blood tests showed the overwhelming presence of toxins.

Finally, the culprit showed up in a sputum culture: the man had been poisoned by an air-born fungus called Asperillus fumigatus.

On closer questioning, the patient’s partner revealed that his symptoms had started less than 24 hours after he had dispersed rotting tree and plant mulch in the garden, said the study, published in the British journal The Lancet.

“It is very rare. I have been a microbiologist