Fungal Pathogens

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Fungal Pathogens

Fungi are a natural part of the environment and can be found all around us.  Some types of fungi, including those found in our environment and others in mold infested indoor environments can cause infections in some people.  This is particularly true with people with a weakened immune system.

The following are some of the more well known fungal diseases and the pathogenic fungi that cause them:

Aspergillus is a common fungus that can be found in some indoor and outdoor environments. Aspergillosis is the name of the infection caused by Aspergillus.  There are several different kinds of aspergillosis.

Blastomycosis is a disease caused by the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. The fungus lives in moist soil and in association with decomposing organic matter such as wood and leaves.  The symptoms of blastomycosis are often similar to flu symptoms.

Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. There are over 20 species of Candida yeasts that can cause infection in humans, the most common of which is Candida albicans.

Coccidioidomycosis, also called Valley Fever, is an infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides, which lives in the soil of dry, low rainfall areas.  It is endemic in many areas of the southwestern United States, Mexico, Central and South America.

Cryptococcosis is an infection caused by fungi that belong to the genus Cryptococcus. There are over 30 different species of Cryptococcus, but two species -- Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii cause nearly all cryptococcal infections in humans and animals.

Dermatophytes are fungi that cause skin, hair and nail infections. Infections caused by these fungi are also sometimes known as "ringworm" or "tinea."  There are many different species of dermatophytes that can cause infection in humans. Two of the most common types are Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton tonsurans,

These are just a few things to know about fungal pathogens and Part 2 of this video series will discuss other common fungal pathogens.

In this second part of a two part series on fungal pathogens we will discuss additional well known fungal diseases and the pathogenic fungi that cause them.  They include the following:

Fungal keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea caused by a fungus. Types of fungi that have been known to cause fungal keratitis include: Fusarium, Aspergillus and Candida species.

Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum.  The fungus lives in the environment, usually in association with large amounts of bird or bat droppings. The symptoms of histoplasmosis are similar to pneumonia.

Mucormycosis, also known as zygomycosis, is a rare infection caused by organisms that belong to a group of fungi called Mucoromycotina in the order Mucorales. These fungi are typically found in the soil and in association with decaying organic matter.

Pneumocystis pneumonia, or PCP, is a serious illness caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii. PCP is one of the most frequent and severe opportunistic infections in people with weakened immune systems, particularly people with HIV/AIDS.

Sporotrichosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Sporothrix schenckii. Cutaneous infection is the most common form of infection and usually occurs after handling contaminated plant material, when the fungus enters the skin through a small cut or scrape.

Exserohilum is a fungus found in soil and on plants, especially grasses, and it thrives in warm and humid climates. It is a very rare cause of infection in people, but it has been identified as one of the predominant pathogens in a recent multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and other fungal infections associated with contaminated steroid injections.

Cladosporium is another rare cause of human illness, but it has been known to cause several different types of infections, including skin, eye, sinus and brain infections. Cladosporium, like many types of fungi, has also been associated with allergies and asthma.

These are just a few things to know about fungal pathogens and we invite you to view Part 1 of this two part video series to learn about other well known fungal pathogens.