Gardener's bizarre death after handling soil

·News Reporter
·2-min read

A gardener has died after being exposed to a fungal infection found in soil.

The man, 53, from North Carolina in the US, had two months of intermittent fevers and after suffering paralysis in his legs was rushed to the emergency room, according to his case in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Six months before he was hospitalised the gardener had a bioprosthetic aortic-valve replaced in his heart.

Spain, Tarragona. Man planting flowers in his garden.
A gardender in the US fell ill after being exposed to a fungi in soil. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

Doctors noted he had a fever and numbness in his legs but found no cuts.

He underwent a CT scan and an angiography, which is when doctors look specifically at blood vessels, and found he had a 9cm ascending aortic pseudoaneurysm and some clots.

His replacement valve, however, was working fine.

Doctors performed an emergency embolectomy to remove the blockages. They also found evidence of fungi.

Computed tomographic angiography reveals a 9-cm ascending aortic pseudoaneurysm in the heart of a 53-year-old man.
A CT scan reveals an aortic pseudoaneurysm. Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

“Microscopic examination of a dry smear stained with lactophenol cotton blue revealed hyphae with sympodial conidia (Panel C), and the dematiaceous mold Curvularia alcornii, a fungus typically found in the soil, was grown in culture,” researchers wrote.

Problems with his heart and arteries

The man was given anti-fungal medication and had part of his heart replaced.

Unfortunately, the issues with his heart continued and three months later he again went to doctors with fever. He also, on this occasion, had issues with his iliac arteries which are in the lower half of the body.

Two months later the fungal infection had spread further and complications with it led to his death.

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