A man battling cancer in California died from a rare fungal infection Monday 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.