Mucormycosis (patient information)
Mucormycosis is a fungal infection of the sinuses, brain, skin, gastrointestinal or lungs that occurs mostly in people with weakened immune systems.
What are the symptoms of Mucormycosis?
Symptoms of rhinocerebral mucormycosis include:
- Eye swelling and protrusion (proptosis)
- Dark nasal eschar (scabbing)
- Redness of skin overlying sinuses
- Sinus pain or congestion
Symptoms of lung (pulmonary) mucorycosis include:
Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis include:
Symptoms of kidney (renal) mucormycosis include:
- Flank (side) pain
Symptoms of skin (cutaneous) mucormycosis include a single, painful, hardened area of skin that may have a blackened center.
What causes Mucormycosis?
Mucormycosis is caused by common fungi frequently found in the soil and in decaying vegetation. Most individuals are exposed to these fungi on a daily basis, but people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infection.
Syndromes associated with mucormycosis include:
- Rhinocerebral infection (infection of sinuses and brain)
- Pulmonary mucormycosis (lung involvement) -- pneumonia that gets worse quickly and may spread to the chest cavity, heart, and brain
- Mucormycosis of the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and kidneys
Who is at highest risk?
Conditions most commonly associated with mucormycosis include diabetes (usually poorly controlled diabetes), chronic steroid use, metabolic acidosis, organ transplantation, leukemia, lymphoma, treatment with deferoxamine, and AIDS.
mucormycosis should be suspected if symptoms appear in individuals with weakened immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients. Symptoms of rhinocerebral mucormycosis are most likely to occur among immunosuppressed people.
A tissue specimen must be taken and analyzed in order to make a definitive diagnosis of mucormycosis.
When to seek urgent medical care?
People with weakened immune systems and immune disorders (including diabetes) should seek medical attention if they develop fever, headache, sinus pain, eye swelling, or any of the other symptoms listed above.
Surgery should be done immediately 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. Without such aggressive surgery, however, chances of survival are greatly decreased.
You will also receive antifungal medicines through a vein.
Where to find medical care for mucormycosis?
Because the fungi that cause mucormycosis are widespread, the most appropriate preventive measures involve improved control of the underlying illnesses associated with mucormycosis.
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
Mucormycosis has an extremely high death rate even when aggressive surgery is done. Death rates range from 25 - 85% depending on the body area involved and your overall health.
- Blindness (if the optic nerve is involved)
- Clotting or blockage of brain or lung blood vessels (thrombosis)
- Nerve damage