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Mucormycosis : Types, Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Jul 20, 2023

Mucormycosis : Types, Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment : Microbiology

Mucormycosis, also known as zygomycosis, is a dangerous but uncommon fungal infection brought on by a class of molds known as mucormycetes. The environment is home to these fungi. They are organic organisms that live in soil and decompose organic waste like compost, leaves, or rotting wood.

Mucormycosis is contracted when a person comes into contact with environmental fungus spores. As an illustration, inhaling spores might result in infections of the sinus or lungs. People who take medications that impair the body's ability to fight infection and disease or who have health issues are more likely to develop certain kinds of mucormycosis.

Read this blog further to get a quick overview of this important topic for MICROBIOLOGY to ace your NEET PG/NExT exam preparation.

Types Of Mucormycosis

  • Rhinocerebral Mucormycosis- An infection of the sinuses that can extend to the brain is called rhino cerebral (sinus and brain) mucormycosis. People with uncontrolled diabetes and kidney transplant recipients are more likely to experience this.
  • Pulmonary Mucormycosis- The most prevalent form of mucormycosis in those with cancer, as well as those who have undergone organ or stem cell transplants, is pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis.
  • Gastrointestinal Mucormycosis- Young children are more likely to develop gastrointestinal Mucormycosis than adults to develop gastrointestinal mucormycosis. Infants under one month old who were born prematurely or with low birth weight are in danger if they have undergone surgery, received antibiotics, or are taking drugs that impair the body's defenses against infection.
  • Cutaneous Mucormycosis- After the fungus enters the body through a crack in the skin, cutaneous (skin) mucormycosis develops. It mainly appears at the site of a burn, scrape, cut, surgery, or any other kind of skin trauma. When a person's immune system is not compromised, this type of mucormycosis is the most prevalent.
  • Disseminated Mucormycosis- When the infection spreads to another part of the body through the bloodstream, it is known as disseminated mucormycosis. The illness typically affects the brain, but it can also damage other organs like the spleen, heart, and skin.

Causes Of Mucormycosis

Exposure to mucormyete molds is the main cause of mucormycosis. These microbes are found in:

  • Leaves
  • Compost piles
  • Soil
  • Rotting wood
  • Inhaling airborne mold spores from an infected area can cause mucormycosis. 

You might subsequently have the infection in your:

  • Lungs
  • Face
  • The central nervous system (less frequently).
  • Sinuses

Additionally, a cut or burn to the skin can expose you to the fungus (cutaneous exposure). In these situations, the burn or wound ultimately becomes infected.

Although these molds can exist in the environment naturally, not everyone who is exposed will develop a fungus infection. If your immune system is compromised, you may be more likely to have this kind of infection.

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Risk Factors For Mucormycosis

Mucormycosis is a rare condition, although those with health issues or those who take medications that impair the body's capacity to fight infection are more likely to get it. Mucormycosis is more common in some populations, especially those who have certain conditions, such as:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Cancer
  • Organ transplant
  • Implantation of stem cells
  • Neutropenia is when the White blood cell count is low.
  • Usage of corticosteroids for an extended period of time
  • Using drugs by injection
  • Iron overload or hemochromatosis is the result of the body having too much iron.
  • Surgical, burn, or wound-related skin damage
  • Prematurity and low birth weight

Symptoms For Mucormycosis

The symptoms of mucormycosis differ according to the location of the fungus in the body. Consult your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms that you think might be caused by mucormycosis.

The following are symptoms of mucormycosis of the nose and brain:

  • One side of the face has an edema
  • Congestion in the nose or sinus pain
  • Black lesions appear on the bridge of your nose or the top part of your mouth and they start to become worse right away.
  • Fever

Among the warning signs and symptoms of pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis are:

  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing

The affected area may turn black and develop blisters or ulcers as a result of cutaneous (skin) mucormycosis. Other symptoms include swelling, pain, heat, or excessive redness close to a cut.

There are several signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis.

  • Constipation
  • Nauseous
  • Diarrheal bleeding

Because dispersed mucormycosis typically affects people who are already ill with other medical conditions, it may be difficult to pinpoint which symptoms are brought on by the infection. Patients with disseminated infection in the brain may develop mental abnormalities or enter a coma.

Diagnose Of Mucormycosis

When making a diagnosis of mucormycosis, medical professionals take into account your medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and lab results. A sample of fluid from the respiratory system may be taken by the doctor if they suspect that you have mucormycosis in your sinuses or lungs. A tissue biopsy may be carried out by your healthcare practitioner. In this procedure, a small sample of the diseased tissue is examined under a microscope or in a fungal culture in a laboratory to check for signs of mucormycosis. Depending on where the infection is thought to be, additional imaging tests, including a CT scan of your lungs, sinuses, or other sections of your body, may be required.

Treatment Of Mucormycosis

The dangerous condition known as mucormycosis must be treated with an antifungal medication available only by prescription, typically amphotericin B, posaconazole, or isavuconazole. 

Amphotericin B, posaconazole, and isavuconazole are administered intravenously or either orally. Other medications including fluconazole, voriconazole, and echinocandins cannot treat the fungus that causes mucormycosis. Surgery is frequently required to remove the infected tissue when treating mucormycosis.

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