A recent case of Cryptococcus neoformans infection led doctors to call for the public to be mindful of their health and to take special care of patients who have used steroids for a long time, have diabetes or are undergoing dialysis, as they are in a high-risk group prone to infection.
About six months ago, an 18-year-old student complained of pain in her left knee when walking and checked in to the Taipei City Hospital. Doctors diagnosed that she had been infected with the Cryptococcus neoformans fungus in her femur, Huang Ming-che (黃明哲) of the hospital’s orthopedic division said on Friday.
X-rays and nuclear magnetic resonance scans helped doctors to discover that the cortical surface of the student’s femur had been corroded and the tissue around the infection was already collecting interstitial fluid, Huang said.
He added that the hospital had to conduct a pathological examination to determine whether it was a bone neoplasm or an infection.
The results of the examination showed the presence of the Cryptococcus neoformans fungus, Huang said, adding that the condition had been suppressed after treatment with antifungal agents.
If treating the infection had been delayed any longer it would have resulted in severe damage to the femur’s structure and would have left a lingering after-effect of persistent aches, Huang said.
The primary path of infection is from touching or inhaling dirt and air tainted with bird feces — especially that of pigeons — and once the fungus enters the body it can be transmitted to other organs through the circulatory system, Huang said.
Though the patient’s family does not keep any birds or pigeons, there is a pigeon coop close to her home, Huang said, adding that it was possible that she had accidentally come into contact with earth contaminated with pigeon excrement.
Huang said that the patient had suffered from systemic lupus erythematosus seven years ago and had been on steroid therapy for a long time to control the disease.
However, Huang added that the patient’s case was rare, as infection with the fungus usually led to pneumonia or meningitis, both of which could become fatal if left untreated.
Meanwhile, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) doctor Luo Yi-chun (羅一均) said that the Cryptococcus neoformans fungus is ubiquitous. He added that pigeon feces and eucalyptus leaves have a high pH, which is conducive to the fungus’ breeding, and they therefore tend to contain a higher concentration of the fungus.
Luo said that as pigeon excrement incubates the fungus and concentrates it to a high degree, soil contaminated with pigeon feces is more dangerous than normal earth.
Only people with a low resistance to viral infections — such as those suffering from uncontrolled diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, renal failure, or autoimmune diseases like HIV/AIDS — are susceptible to full-body infection, Luo said, adding that the fungus was not medically viewed as a transmittable disease because of the nature of its infections.
CDC deputy director Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said that people should take care to distance themselves from potential sources of contamination and pay attention to personal hygiene, as well as environmental sanitation.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
The National Taiwan Museum’s Railway Department Park in Taipei is to open to the public today. The park in Datong District (大同) near the North Gate (北門, Beimen) is one of the museum’s four branches. During the Japanese colonial era, the site housed the railway department of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan’s Bureau of Transportation. After World War II, it served as the headquarters for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for several decades. In 2007, it was listed as a national monument under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). At an opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37