The case report was published online in the journal Medical Mycology Case Reports.
According to the report, the 61-year-old man experienced symptoms such as cough, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, hoarseness, lack of appetite and recurrent inflammation of the throat (pharyngitis) for about three months before seeking medical care.
The patient works as a mycologist and he studies fungi. He said that he regularly studies decaying material, mushrooms and other fungi as part of his research.
Doctors conducted a computerized tomography (CT) scan on the man's neck and the results revealed a pocket of pus on the right side of his windpipe. The doctors then extracted a sample of pus from this abscess.
Analysis revealed that there was evidence of fungal growth.
After applying a stain to the sample, the team discovered it contained hyphae, a number of branching filaments that are found in fungi.
In another test, the patient's doctors allowed the pus to incubate in a lab dish. The results of the test revealed that the sample grew a "creamy pasty colony" of fungus after several days. (Related: Natural healing: How to treat fungal infections.)
Because the doctors were unable to identify the fungal species based on physical features, they sent a sample to the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center on Reference and Research on Fungi of Medical Importance in India.
After a genetic analysis, the WHO researchers identified the fungus as Chondrostereum purpureum, the same one that causes the infectious disease silver leaf in plants.
The patient told his doctors that he did not work on the plant pathogen C. purpureum, but he mentioned that he has been studying "decaying material and other plant fungi for a long time as part of his research activities."
The doctors treated the patient's infection with a procedure to drain the pus from his neck. He then took broad-spectrum antifungal pills for two months.
After two years of follow-up monitoring, his doctors said the patient was "absolutely fine and there is no evidence of recurrence."
Trees infected with silver leaf develop a silver sheen on their leaves, hence the name. The infection causes the outermost layer of the leaves to separate from the layers beneath.
Because this is the first time a C. purpureum infection was observed in a human, it remains to be seen how likely it is to occur in others or how such infections can best be treated.
Silver leaf is a fungal disease of the wood and leaves of some trees. It infects the wood through wounds and causes leaves to turn silver followed by the death of the branch.
Symptoms of silver leaf may include:
Since the fungus produces most of its infectious spores in autumn and winter, it is best to carry out the routine pruning of susceptible plants in summer.
Note that there are fewer spores in summer, and pruning wounds – the main point of entry of the spores – heal more quickly.
If you notice signs of infection in a tree, cut the affected branch as soon as possible and before the fungal fruiting bodies appear.
Cut off the branch at a point 10 to 15 cm (four to six inches) beyond the area where the staining in the internal tissue ends.
Regularly disinfect your cutting equipment and carefully dispose of the pruned material immediately. Fruiting bodies will still form if you leave them lying around in your garden.
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