Mucormycosis is a serious but rare fungal infection which is caused by a cluster of molds called mucormycetes. These fungi tend to grow within the environment, specifically in soil and in link with decaying organic matter, like leaves, compost piles, or rotten wood.
Some of the examples of the types of fungi that most commonly cause mucormycosis are: Rhizopus species, Mucor species, Cunninghamella bertholletiae, Apophysomyces species, and Lichtheimia species.
People suffer mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores present in the environment. For example, the lung or sinus forms of the infection can happen to someone after he or she inhales the spores from the air.
Usually these forms of mucormycosis occur in people who have weakened immune systems. Mucormycosis can be produced on the skin as the fungus makes its way and enters the skin via cut, scrape, burn, or other type of skin trauma.
How does someone get mucormycosis?
People get mucormycosis by coming in contact with fungal spores in the environment. For example, the sinus or lung types of the infection can happen after someone inhales the spores present in the air. Mucormycosis can develop on the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, scrape, burn, or other type of skin trauma.
How is mucormycosis diagnosed?
Doctor looks at your previous medical history, symptoms, physical examinations, and laboratory tests when diagnosing mucormycosis.
If your doctor founds that you have mucormycosis in your lungs or sinuses, he or she might collect a sample of fluid from your respiratory system to send to a laboratory.
Your doctor may perform a tissue biopsy, in which a small sample of affected tissue is analyzed in a laboratory for evidence of mucormycosis under a microscope or in a fungal culture.
You may also need to go through imaging tests like a CT scan of your lungs, sinuses, or other parts of your body depending on the location of the suspected infection.
Symptoms of Mucormycosis
The symptoms of mucormycosis rely on where in the body the fungus is growing. Mucormycosis is very rare and it typically affects people who have weakened immune systems. Contact your doctor if you have symptoms that you think are related to mucormycosis.
Symptoms of mucormycosis include:
- One-sided facial swelling
- Nasal or sinus congestion
- Black lesions on upper inside of mouth
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
How is mucormycosis treated?
Mucormycosis is a severe infection and it needs to be treated with prescribed antifungal medication, generally amphotericin B, posaconazole or isavuconazole.
These medications are given through a vein (amphotericin B, posaconazole, isavuconazole) or by mouth (posaconazole, isavuconazole). Often, mucormycosis requires surgery to cut away the infected tissue.