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Man in Iran who believed he would get sick from washing dies at 94, just after his first wash in years

"Amu Haji" died in the village of Dezhgah in the south of Iran
Map of a portion of the Middle East
Posted at 1:16 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 16:16:12-04

A man in Iran who had been called "the world's dirtiest" by state media died at the age of 94 on Sunday after years of avoiding bathing because he feared it would make him sick.

He was known as Uncle Haji to locals, but "Amu Haji" died just months after taking his first bath in decades, according to Iran's state media.

Haji died in the southern Iranian village of Dezhgah, according to Iran's IRNA state news agency.

Locals who knew him once tried to bring him to a nearby river to bathe him, but he managed to escape the vehicle they were traveling in.

He feared that using soap and water would make him sick, and he also feared eating fresh foods, the BBC reported, citing translations from IRNA.

The BBC cited state media claims that trying to bathe him or have him drink clean water would make him sad.

In 2014 he was interviewed by the Tehran Times, revealing that his favorite food was porcupine.

Haji said he lived in a hole in the ground and a brick structure that neighbors built after they became concerned about his safety and comfort.

IRNA reported that after years of living without bathing, his skin was covered in "soot and pus." He reportedly survived on a diet of old meat and drank unfiltered water from an old can.

He reportedly loved to smoke cigarettes and, at times, more than one simultaneously.

Haji's exact cause of death was not immediately clear.

It is uncertain if Haji held the record for the longest time without bathing, despite his nickname given by some news organizations. As the BBC reported, in 2009, reports surfaced of a man in India who had, at one point, claimed to have not bathed or brushed his teeth for 35 years.

*Editor's note: In various translations, the style for the village's spelling is "Dejgah", or Dezhgah. Also, variations exist for the name "Amu Haji," or "Amou Haji."