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Eating “specialty” termites, a woman infected with a fungus died

News from Bach Mai Hospital said that the patient was admitted to the hospital on May 30 with very severe respiratory failure, the lungs could no longer guarantee the ventilation function despite the maximum ventilator support.

The patient was admitted to ECMO and continued with active resuscitation measures: antibiotics, antifungals, dialysis, vasopressors… but his health condition did not improve.

The patient is Mrs. NTT (60 years old, from Ninh Binh). The family said that Ms. T went to Hoa Binh and bought local “specialty” live termites to make roasted termites. A part of the termites she kept in the refrigerator, next to other fast foods such as spring rolls, spring rolls…


Image of the fungus Aspegillus fumigatus on the histopathological stain of a patient who died after eating termites (BSCC photo)

After eating termites for 5 days, the patient appeared to have abdominal pain, defecation, low blood pressure, was treated in the direction of septic shock at the provincial hospital but his condition did not improve.

Patients with severe shock, respiratory failure, have to maintain a very high dose of vasopressor, mechanical ventilation but the lungs are constricted, the ventilator cannot push air into the lungs to ventilate.

Directly treating the patient, Dr. Nguyen Ba Cuong – Intensive Care Center, Bach Mai Hospital said that on May 30, when he was just transferred to the hospital, the patient had bronchoscopy. multiple bilateral lower lobe pseudomembranous plaques.

With experience in treating many complicated cases, doctors immediately thought of fungi. And on June 1, bronchoscopy showed pseudomembranous growth on the entire airway mucosa, creating clumps of warts and interlaced pseudomembranous membranes like spider webs that completely filled the tracheobronchial lumen.

On June 2, endoscopy showed that the pseudomembranous tissues adhered to the airway wall gradually peeled off. All airway specimens showed filamentous fungi staining, Aspergillus fumigatus culture results, and Aspergillus fumigatus pseudomembranous pathology images concentrated in clusters.


Image of the fungus Aspegillus fumigatus parasitic on termites (Internet photo provided by the doctor)

On June 4, despite being diligently treated by doctors and nurses, the patient’s condition did not improve and the patient died after 6 days of intensive treatment.

According to Dr. Cuong, Aspergillus fumigatus is an opportunistic fungus that parasitizes many types of animals, insects and the environment.

When the body is immunocompromised (such as severe illness…) fungi have the opportunity to grow and cause disease with very severe symptoms (especially respiratory) with a very high mortality rate.

Doctor Cuong recommends that people do not eat foods made from insects and should not store them together with other foods to avoid bacteria and germs from raw food.

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