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Mucormycosis

Fungal infection - mucormycosis; Zygomycosis

Mucormycosis is a fungal infection of the sinuses, brain, or lungs. It occurs in some people with a weakened immune system.

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Causes

Mucormycosis is caused by different kinds of fungi that are often found in decaying organic matter. These include spoiled bread, fruit, and vegetables, as well as soil and compost piles. Most people come in contact with the fungus at some time.

However, people with a weakened immune system are more likely to develop mucormycosis. These include people with any of the following conditions:

Mucormycosis may involve:

Symptoms

Symptoms of rhinocerebral mucormycosis include:

Symptoms of lung (pulmonary) mucormycosis include:

Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis include:

Symptoms of kidney (renal) mucormycosis include:

Symptoms of skin (cutaneous) mucormycosis include a single, painful, hardened area of skin that may have a blackened center.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will examine you. See an ear-nose-throat (ENT) doctor if you are having sinus problems.

Testing depends on your symptoms, but may include these imaging tests:

A biopsy must be done to diagnose mucormycosis. A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for laboratory examination to identify the fungus.

Treatment

Surgery should be done right away to remove all dead and infected tissue. Surgery can lead to disfiguration because it may involve removal of the palate, parts of the nose, or parts of the eye. But, without such aggressive surgery, chances of survival are greatly decreased.

You will also receive antifungal medicine, usually amphotericin B, through a vein. After the infection is under control, you may be switched to a different medicine such as posaconazole or isavuconazole.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Mucormycosis has a very high death rate, even when aggressive surgery is done. Risk of death depends on the area of the body involved and your overall health.

Possible Complications

These complications may occur:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

People with weakened immune systems and immune disorders (including diabetes) should seek medical attention if they develop:

Prevention

Because the fungi that cause mucormycosis are widespread, the best way to prevent this infection is to improve control of the illnesses associated with mucormycosis.

References

Kontoyiannis DP, Lewis RE. Agents of mucormycosis and entomophthoramycosis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 260.

Patterson JW. Mycoses and algal infections. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2015:chap 25.

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Review Date: 12/1/2018  

Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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