14-year-old Girl Chokes on Her Own Blood, Bleeds to Death After Contracting Rare Fungal Infection From Mold Spores

A teenage girl who caught an infection from breathing in mold spores bled to death after choking on her blood, according to her mother.

Jade Owens, 14, from the town of Stockport in England, came down with what was thought to be a minor chest infection in May, the SWNS news agency reported. Three weeks later, she was dead.

The schoolgirl was hit with flu-like symptoms. She visited her family doctor on May 20, who gave her antibiotics. But the next day, her grandmother, a nurse, advised her to visit an emergency room after her breathing sped up and her skin changed color.

Her family were surprised to find she had Type 1 diabetes. Tests revealed the teenager had developed severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious complication of diabetes when the body creates too much of what are known as ketones.

After Owens didn't respond well to insulin—a treatment for diabetes—her condition deteriorated and doctors put the schoolgirl in a coma on May 22, in an attempt to save her life.

After five days, Owens woke up, and started her recovery process with a two-week stint in hospital.

"It was such a relief," said her mother, identified only as Louise.

But on the morning of June 11, Owens started to cough up blood. Louise rushed to hospital, where doctors explained they were trying to return her daughter to a stable condition. Just 20 minutes later they delivered the news to the 14-year-old's family that she was dead.

She was later diagnosed with mucormycosis. The rare condition is caused by the mucormycetes group of fungi, which can lurk in soil—particularly decaying organic matter like animal dung, leaves, and compost, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fungi are more common in the soil than the air, and in the summer and fall as opposed to the winter or spring months.

The infection had attacked the teenager's immune system, and caused cells in her airways, throat and airways to die away. The blood vessels in her throat then burst, causing her to bleed to death, her mother said.

"She choked on her own blood and had coughed it up. It was horrific to see and that will never leave me," Louise said. "It's something I'll never forget, walking into the room and seeing my daughter covered in blood."

Most people aren't harmed by the fungi, but people with weak immune systems can develop infections of the lungs or sinuses after breathing in the spores. Research suggests people with poorly controlled diabetes, such as Owens who didn't know she had the condition, are more likely to develop mucormycosis.

It is unclear how the teenager caught the infection. However, Louise said her daughter may have breathed in mold spores due to her hobbies. Jade was an avid horse rider, and loved spending outdoors with her family.

Louise told SWNS: "I'm heartbroken."

The schoolgirl was laid to rest on July 10.

The mother of two said she is speaking out now to highlight the symptoms of diabetes to others, including how her daughter was "very tired" and had lost weight while feeling hungry a lot of the time.

Other symptoms of the condition include feeling very thirsty, needing to pee more often than usual, especially at night, recurring thrush, blurred vision and wounds that won't heal.

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A stock image shows a child in a hospital bed. A teenager in Stockport died after contracting an infection. Getty
14-year-old Girl Chokes on Her Own Blood, Bleeds to Death After Contracting Rare Fungal Infection From Mold Spores | Health