An Iranian man who refused to wash for more than half a century because he was worried it would make him sick has died after taking a shower.
Amou Haji gave up washing 67 years ago after becoming convinced that it would bring him bad luck, and eventually kill him.
He was reportedly otherwise healthy, despite only eating roadkill raw and drinking dirty water from puddles.
But local officials have confirmed that he died after his neighbours persuaded him to have a shower a few months ago after which he became ill and has now died.
They acted after reports at the start of the year that he was lonely and that not washing made it difficult to make friends and possibly find a lady friend.
It pointed out that this might also have something to do with his tendency to smoke pipes filled with animal manure and his favourite meal being roadkill porcupine – uncooked.
Experts were interested in studying what type of lifeforms including parasites might have taken up home on his body and were able to confirm that he does not have any disease or any parasites, despite the lack of personal hygiene.
They were also surprised that he had not suffered from his preference for eating decaying meat again because of his superstitions, and refusing to sterilise the warty drinks.
The tests were carried out by an associate professor of parasitology at the School of Public Health in Teheran by a team including Dr Gholamreza Molavi.
The medic said that given the enormously unsanitary conditions in which he lived surrounded by waste and dead animals, he anyway could have remained so healthy as by developing an enormously strong immune system.
He added that they had tested him for everything – from the various forms of hepatitis and AIDS through to parasites – and the only thing that they found was a Trichinosis infection which is a parasitic infection that in his case appeared to be producing no symptoms.
Larvae hatch out when uncooked meat is eaten typically from bears or dogs, but not pork in his case, as his religion does not allow him to eat pig.
After a week, larvae emerge and then burrow into the nearby muscles to form small cysts. They then remain dormant typically for the life of the host waiting for the time when the host dies, in anticipation of being eaten again and restarting the process.
Surprisingly – given his remote lifestyle – he was well educated and one recent visitor discussed the pros and cons of the French Revolution and also his views on how well the Russian Revolution turned out for the people.
He knew the up-to-date politicians but also complained that the international publicity had made life difficult for him, and although his neighbours respect him, he said people turn up occasionally to taunt him, and even throw stones at him.
But after pointing out that a good wash would help his chances of winning more friends, he took a shower as confirmed by local news agency IRNA.
They quoted a source saying “for the first time a few months ago, villagers had taken him to a bathroom to wash.”
The report about his death and state media indicate that he was 94 when he died although early reports at the start of the year indicated that he was 87.
He apparently died at his home in the village of Dejgah in the southern province of Fars on Sunday, 23rd October.
He had reportedly previously twice managed to avoid attempts to get into wash bays.
On one occasion, a group of local youths tried to take him for a bath but he had run away, and on a second occasion men from the village put him in a car to drive him to the river, but he opened the door and escaped while it was still moving.
After that, they had given up until recently when they took this time to a proper bathroom and gave him a shower.
Shortly afterwards he started to sicken and then died.
His funeral is due to take place today (Tuesday) in Deirm Farashband.
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