A man battling cancer in California died from a rare fungal infection believed to have come from a contaminated batch of medical marijuana.
The unidentified man was undergoing rounds of chemotherapy for his cancer and smoked medical marijuana as a way of easing the side effects of his treatment. Doctors at the University of California, Davis Cancer Center said he suffered from a beatable form of cancer and they were surprised by the rapid deterioration and death of the patient, reports CBS Los Angeles.
“It started with a couple patients that were undergoing very intensive chemotherapy and a stem cell therapy, and those patients were very immune-compromised,” Dr. Joseph Tuscano of the UC Davis Cancer Center, told CBS.
Officials are not yet elaborating on what specific fungus killed the patient, only saying it is a extremely rare but lethal form. It is unclear how many medical marijuana patients may be exposed to possible infection.
The unidentified man’s immune system was already in a compromised state due to the cancer treatment, allowing the infection to grow quickly.
“We thought it was strange to have cases of such a bad fungal disease in such a short amount of time,” Dr. George Thompson, an expert on fungal infection at the UC Davis Medical Center, told CBS.
Officials ran a statewide investigation of medical marijuana, testing roughly 20 samples from dispensaries following the man’s death. Officials said the vast amount of weed they tested contained dangerous bacteria and fungi.
One expert likened the man’s fatal fungus to the contaminants found on rat droppings.
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