The silver leaf disease that afflicts plants has for the first time in the world infected a man in India (Pic. Courtesy wikimedia commons)
In a unique and first-of-its-kind case ever documented, an Indian man was diagnosed with a fungal disease that affects trees. There have been no reports ever of human beings having contracted this ailment known as silver leaf in plants that is caused by Chondrostereum purpureum fungus as per a livescience.com article.
The concerned patient was a 61-year-old mycologist — who studied fungi and worked with mushrooms and decaying material. He reported that for three months he had problems in swallowing, coughing, fatigue, lack of appetite, hoarseness and repeated throat inflammation before seeking medical advice.
Pus was detected on the right side of his windpipe through the computer tomography scan and when its sample was analysed it was found to have a fungal growth. Incubation of the pus resulted in the growth of a “creamy pasty colony” of fungus.
Unable to pinpoint the fungal species, the sample was sent to the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Reference and Research on Fungi of Medical Importance in Chandigarh. It was identified as C. purpureum.
Even though the person said he had not worked with this plant pathogen, he did inform working with decaying material and other plant fungi for a long time as part of his research activities.
The infection was treated successfully by draining out the pus and two-month course of antifungal pills. After two years of post-treatment monitoring, he was declared to be absolutely fine.
The trees infected by this fungus include those bearing pears, cherries and apples and also elms, maples and oaks. It is identified when the trees are found to have a silver sheen on their leaves as the affliction makes the outermost layer of the leaves get detached from the ones below.
Details of the case have been published online in the journal Medical Mycology Case.
Talking about this rare instance, the authors of the study, Soma Dutta and Ujjwayini Ray, both Consultants at Kolkata’s Apollo Multispeciality wrote: “This case report demonstrates the crossover of plant pathogen into humans when working in close contact with plant fungi. The cross-kingdom pathogenicity demands much work to be done in order to explore insights of the mechanisms involved, thus leading to possible recommendations to control and contain these infections.”