NY – Mold is being recognized as a detriment to health worldwide. The use of contaminated syringes to inject drugs for impotence led to an outbreak of a serious heart infection in Israel caused by a pathogenic mold, investigators report.
The outbreak of endocarditis, an inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart, was first detected when an 84-year-old man died of Phialemonium curvatum endocarditis in March 2002. In reviewing his medical history, it was discovered that he had been trained to self-inject drugs for impotence from pre-filled syringes into his penis. Testing of the patient’s used syringes revealed them as the source of infection.
An alert was put out to patients who had visited the impotence clinic where the man had received the syringes. Ultimately, two more patients were diagnosed with P. curvatum endocarditis. Testing of unused syringes and bottles provided to other patients detected P. curvatum in four cases, and another mold, Paecilomyces lilacinus in one.
“P. curvatum is emerging as a pathogen in immunocompromised, but this is only the second report of an outbreak in non-immunocompromised hosts,” lead author Dr. Jacob Strahilevitz, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told Reuters Health. Some are realizing now that mold can invade anyone, despite their health condition.
“Another key point is that P. curvatum goes against the dogma that molds do not grow in blood cultures,” Strahilevitz said. “If this organism is found in blood, it must be considered a true infection.”