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Possible Health Concern

  • Subject: [cg] Possible Health Concern
  • From: Anne M Harvey naneharvey@juno.com
  • Date: Thu, 3 Oct 2002 19:12:57 -0400

I don't want to be an alarmist, but I have been treated for a lung
infection for the last year and think it may have come from working in my
community garden.  I am sending this as a cautionary tale...

The infection was a mycobacterial infection, though mine was a rare
strain of mycobacterium -- M. interjectum.  I was treated with a number
of antibiotics (rifabutin, biaxin, cipro, levaquin), some of which have
unpleasant side effects.  The whole ordeal started last spring when I was
digging in a pile of wood chips that the garden uses to cover pathways. 
The pile had been sitting for a few days and gotten rained on.  There was
obvious mold and fungus growing in some parts of the pile and when I
stuck my shovel in a large dusty cloud rose up and I breathed in some of
it.  About a month later I coughed up blood which sent me to the doctor's
office.  Two CAT scans and two bronchoscopies later I had a diagnosis and
took antibiotics for the next 6 months.  It appears to be gone now,
though something still appears on the CAT scan -- probably scarring.

Mycobacteria can grow on decaying plant matter and can be found in soil. 
Some people are more susceptible than others to these infections --
especially immune compromised people.  Mycobacterial infections are not
all that uncommon, but are difficult to treat.  1-2 years of taking an
antibiotic cocktail is pretty standard treatment.  

I just thought I should share this experience so people can be careful
and avoid a potentially unpleasant ailment.

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