A man only identified as Peng, 37, from Zhangzhou, China, was admitted to the hospital with chest pains and coughing bouts. He eventually confessed to being a dirty sock sniffer. He reportedly jonesed for the stink of his own hosiery and the daily practice led to a fungal infection in his lungs. From Science Alert:
…While it's difficult to prove his strange habit was the definite source of his chest infection, doctors concluded it was the most reasonable explanation – exacerbated by a lack of sleep that may have compromised his immunity.
"The infection could also be attributed to the patient's lack of rest at home as he had [been] looking after his child, leading to a weaker immune system," one of his doctors, Mai Zhuanying from Zhangzhou's 909 Hospital, explained to Pear Video.
Once the infection was diagnosed, Peng was hospitalised and treated for the condition. Fortunately, the sock-sniffer is expected to make a full recovery.
Asked by Live Science to comment on the case, Vanderbilt University infectious disease expert William Schaffner says the news report seems "dubious" but certainly not impossible. In any case, he says, it "reinforces the notion that one ought to launder ones socks frequently rather than trying to make a daily assessment as to whether you want to put them on again for the seventeeth time."