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Murder by Fungus: The Plot to Assassinate Fidel Castro With Madura Foot

Jason P. Lott, MD, MSHP
Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(8):910. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2012.2097.
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Various skin infections (eg, smallpox, anthrax, typhus, tularemia) have been used or have the potential for use as biowarfare agents for the purposes of causing widespread disease.1 By contrast, to my knowledge, the use of infectious skin diseases as instruments of targeted political violence are unreported in the medical literature. However, declassified records from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have revealed what may be the only known assassination attempt using a skin mycosis.2 In 1963, at the height of the Cold War, the CIA planned to exploit Cuban leader Fidel Castro's affinity for scuba diving by adulterating a wetsuit to cause eumycotic mycetoma (ie, Madura foot), a chronic granulomatous infection of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues caused by Eumycota fungi.

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