Not long ago, a 48-year-old California woman who smoked up to six medical marijuana strains a day was admitted to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CSMC) in Los Angeles. She showed symptoms like dizziness, tiredness, aggressive behavior and difficulty in remembering her own name. She was diagnosed with a potentially deadly meningitis infection.
Owing to her problem, the woman’s behavior had become so erratic that she not only lost her job but also assaulted a nurse at a medical center. Unable to figure out her ailment, the staff at the CSMC emergency room referred her to the psychiatric department. “We thought it might be catatonia (abnormal movement triggered by mental issues), and it took us some time to rule out a psychiatric illness,” said Dr. Bryan Shapiro, who treated the woman.
In December 2017, the British Medical Journal published it as a case study. It blamed fungus-infected medical cannabis for the infection, which had happened in 2016.
Meningitis is a condition that causes a potentially fatal inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. Probing a little deeper, the doctors discovered that a fungus called Cryptococcus caused the infection in the woman. People inhaling air that had contaminated dust particles or who eat food exposed to mouse feces usually contract this infection. Meningitis is probably the most common illness that develops after an exposure to the Cryptococcus fungus.
Dr. Shapiro stressed that it is important for cannabis users in California to ascertain the origin of marijuana as it may compromise their immune system. The medical center took great care while treating the woman for meningitis, as she was already in a delicate position.
The possibility of her death was high, had there not been extra precaution by Dr. Shapiro and his team. Conducting an investigation at the dispensary from where the woman had purchased the marijuana and testing nine samples taken from there, Dr. Shapiro and colleagues eventually discovered the presence of the fungus.
Through the tests, the researchers also found that it was common for fungus spores to grow on cannabis. In fact, another fungus, called Coccidioides immitis found a breeding ground in the soil of Bakersfield and the surrounding Central Valley. This fungus was responsible for causing the “valley fever” infection, which severely affects lungs. With symptoms similar to those of flu, it is difficult to detect and can prove to be fatal too. For the CSMC team, this case was probably the first of its kind. Hence, it is too early to make any formal recommendations, Dr. Shapiro said.
Harms of marijuana
One may consume cannabis for medicinal purpose or otherwise, but the fear of addiction always looms large. Drug addiction is an epidemic across the U.S. that not only affects individuals but their families too. Even at the slightest hint of an addiction, one should seek intervention and proper medical help. Many times, drug users are unsure about which direction to turn to for drug abuse help and for assistance in coping with addiction.
If you or a loved one is addicted to any kind of drug, California Drug Abuse Help can guide you. Our 24/7 drug rehab centers helpline can help you find out the best residential drug treatment in California. Call our helpline number 855-980-1946 to know more about some of the finest drug rehab centers in California or chat online for expert advice.