Mucormycosis (sometimes called zygomycosis) is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes. These fungi live throughout the environment, particularly in soil and in decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, or rotten wood.
People get mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. For example, the lung or sinus forms of the infection can occur after someone breathes in spores. These forms of mucormycosis usually occur in people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness. Mucormycosis can also develop on the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, scrape, burn, or other type of skin trauma.
Mucor racemosus is primarily a soil fungus, but has been found elsewhere, like horse manure, plant remains, grains, vegetables and nuts. In the tropics it is found at the higher altitudes. It is often seen on soft fruit, fruit juice and marmalade.
Mucor is a fast-growing strain of mold, even more so than many other strains. It has a fluffy or cottony texture and is initially white or yellow in color, later becoming gray. Like all types of mold, it can cause health problems and can also damage your home.
Symptoms of Mucormycosis
The symptoms of mucormycosis depend on where in the body the fungus is growing.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms that you think are related to mucormycosis.
Symptoms of rhinocerebral (sinus and brain) mucormycosis include:
- One-sided facial swelling
- Nasal or sinus congestion
- Black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of mouth that quickly become more severe
Symptoms of pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Cutaneous (skin) mucormycosis can look like blisters or ulcers, and the infected area may turn black. Other symptoms include pain, warmth, excessive redness, or swelling around a wound.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
Disseminated mucormycosis typically occurs in people who are already sick from other medical conditions, so it can be difficult to know which symptoms are related to mucormycosis. Patients with disseminated infection in the brain can develop mental status changes or coma.
Health Problems Related To Mucor:
Like all forms of mold, this strain can trigger respiratory problems and allergic reactions. Symptoms might include coughing, sneezing, a runny nose or a stuffy nose, postnasal drip, a sore throat, itchy eyes, sinus headaches, and a rash or hives.
Fortunately, mucormycosis is not a common infection. Unfortunately, since it is rarely seen, many doctors are slow to recognize it when they do see it. If you're been exposed to mold and develop an infection, be sure to let your doctor know about the mold exposure, as this might aid him or her in making a diagnosis. Since mucormycosis is such a serious infection, see your doctor right away if you develop symptoms.
Preventing Mucor-Related Health Problems:
The best way to prevent mold-related illness, including allergies and mucormycosis, is to avoid exposure to mold. Of course, most people would not purposely expose themselves to mold. Often, people don't realize mold is present in their homes until after they've already been exposed.
You can, however, take steps to minimize your exposure. If you discover mold in your home, take steps to have it removed as soon as possible. The longer the mold is allowed to remain in your home, the greater the likelihood you'll develop mold-related health problems.
If you're got mold in your home and are experiencing mold-related health problems, or if you've got a wound of some kind or your immune system is suppressed in some way, it's best to have a professional handle the mold removal for you. Doing the work yourself further exposes you to mold that can lead to serious illness.
Treatment of Mucormycosis:
Mucormycosis is a serious infection and needs to be treated with prescription antifungal medicine, usually amphotericin B, posaconazole, or isavuconazole. These medicines are given through a vein (amphotericin B, posaconazole, isavuconazole) or by mouth (posaconazole, isavuconazole). Other medicines, including fluconazole, voriconazole, and echinocandins, do not work against fungi that cause mucormycosis. Often, mucormycosis requires surgery to cut away the infected tissue. Please consult your doctor before starting any sort of treatment plan.
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