US chef dies of rare fungal infection that ‘ravaged’ his lungs

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New York, Feb 8 (IANS) A 29-year-old chef in the US died after battling a rare fungal disease that made holes in his lungs “like Swiss cheese”.

Michigan-based Ian Pritchard contracted blastomycosis — a fungus-borne illness that targeted and wore out his respiratory system, the New York Post reported.

“They showed us a picture of his lungs, and they literally looked like Swiss cheese,” his father, Ron Pritchard was quoted as saying to UpNorthLive in December.

On Saturday last week, Pritchard was taken off life support at a Detroit hospital, according to a GoFundMe page that raised almost $20,000 for his family.

“The Blastomycosis fungal infection ravaged Ian’s lungs beyond repair,” the page read.

In people with weakened immune systems, the infection will spread from the lungs to the central nervous system, along with the skin and joints, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research from 2005 found that between 4 per cent and 22 per cent of infected people die from blastomycosis. People contract the illness by breathing in spores of the fungus blastomyces, which live in moist soil and decaying wood and leaves found in the Midwest and the South US.

“It’s in the air, it’s in the trees, it’s in the wet leaves, it’s in the ground, it’s in the mud, it’s in, everywhere. Everywhere in northern Michigan — in fact, the Midwest — is covered in (blastomyces),” Pritchard warned.

The infection typically develops within two to 15 weeks, the report said. About half of patients will suffer symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and muscle aches. While there is no cure, the illness is treated with antifungal medications like Itraconazole — Pritchard said his son’s medications cost about $7,000 monthly.

“He was a good kid. He didn’t get in very much trouble, he was no trouble to raise,” his father said.

“People love his food, people love him.”



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