Severe pneumonitis after fire eating

BMJ Case Rep. 2012 Sep 3;2012:bcr2012006528. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2012-006528.


A 38-year-old, previously healthy fire eater presented with severe pneumonitis after incidental aspiration of an unquantifiable amount of petroleum. The chest CT revealed extensive pulmonary consolidations, and the laboratory results showed massively elevated inflammatory markers. An intravenous antibiotic treatment was started and, after improvement of symptoms and inflammatory markers, continued orally for a total of 3 weeks, despite negative results of blood cultures and urinary pneumococcal and legionella antigen tests. The patient's symptoms subsided completely, and a CT scan 10 weeks after the accident showed complete resolution of the lung consolidations. Aspiration of petroleum is associated with a severe inflammatory response of the lung, but if bacterial superinfection can be prevented with early antibiotic treatment, even a severe presentation of a fire eater's lung usually follows a benign course with complete recovery.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Early Medical Intervention
  • Eating*
  • Fires*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Petroleum / toxicity*
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / chemically induced*
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / prevention & control
  • Superinfection / prevention & control
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Petroleum