Garden Bio-hazard: Man Killed By Compost
A man in Briatian has died after inhaling lethal spores which grew on rotting compost in his garden.
The 47-year-old Briton fell ill less than 24 hours after being engulfed by "clouds of dust" while working with rotting tree and plant mulch.
At first medics thought the previously healthy welder had pneumonia when he was admitted with severe breathing problems.
But when antibiotics failed to help, tests showed evidence of Aspergillosis, a reaction to Aspergillus spores.
The fungus is commonly found growing on dead leaves, stored grain, compost piles or decaying vegetation.
Its spores may trigger a relatively harmless allergic reaction or a much more serious destructive infection that begins in the lungs and spreads to other parts of the body.
The man's death - which followed kidney failure and treatment on a heart and lung machine - was reported in The Lancet medical journal.
Dcotors led by Dr David Waghorn from Wycombe Hospital in Buckinghamshire, wrote: "Unlike most patients with acute, invasive aspergillosis, our patient did not seem to be immunosuppressed.
"However, smoking and welding could have damaged his lungs, increasing his vulnerability.
"Since he died so quickly, we cannot exclude the possibility that he had an undetected immunodeficiency."
They concluded: "Acute aspergillosis after contact with decayed plant matter is rare, but may be considered an occupational hazard for gardeners."