New York, February 8 (IANS): A 29-year-old chef in the United States has died after battling a rare fungal disease that left holes in his lungs “like Swiss cheese.”
Michigan resident Ian Pritchard contracted blastomycosis, a fungal-borne disease that affected 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, told UpNorthLive in December.
On Saturday of last week, Pritchard was taken off life support at a Detroit hospital, according to a GoFundMe page that raised nearly $20,000 for his family.
“The blastomycosis fungal infection devastated Ian’s lungs beyond repair,” the page said.
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 and 22 percent of infected people die from blastomycosis. People get the disease by breathing spores of the fungus blastomyces, which lives in moist soil and decaying wood and leaves found in the Midwest and Southern United States.
“It’s in the air, in the trees, in the wet leaves, in the soil, in the mud, everywhere. Everywhere in northern Michigan, in fact, in the Midwest, is covered in (blastomyces)” Pritchard warned.
The infection typically develops between two and 15 weeks, according to the report. About half of patients will suffer symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and muscle aches. Although there is no cure, the disease is treated with antifungal medications such as itraconazole. Pritchard said her son’s medications cost about $7,000 a month.
“He was a good kid. He didn’t get into a lot of trouble, it wasn’t hard to raise him,” his father said.
“People love his food, people love him.”