Reuters – Friday, June 13 12:03 am
LONDON (Reuters) – There could be a killer hiding in your compost heap.
Doctors warned gardeners on Friday of the danger posed by a common fungus after a previously healthy man died from breathing in fungal spores found in dead plant material.
The unusual case involved a 47-year-old who came into contact with the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, and was admitted to hospital after a week of coughing and chest pain.
“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, where clouds of dust had engulfed him,” doctors reported in the Lancet medical journal.
Aspergillus spores are often found in decaying plant matter and are known to be capable of triggering an allergic response.
Such an acute reaction, or aspergillosis, is luckily rare, but Dr David Waghorn of Wycombe Hospital and colleagues said it could be considered an occupational hazard for gardeners.
The victim, who worked as a welder, smoked around 10 cigarettes a day but had no other medical history.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Andrew Roche)