Mucormycosis is a rare fungal infection that is caused by the common fungi (found in soil and decaying vegetation) Mucor, Rhizopus absidia, Cunninghamella, Mortierella, Syncephalastrum, Saksenaea absidia and Cokeromyces. It primarily affects the brain, sinuses and lungs of those with a weak or suppressed immune system and those who are exposed to soil and decaying matter. In some cases Mucormycosis fungi also affects the gastrointestinal tract, skin, heart and maxilla of the person as well. The other name by which Mucormycosis is often known is Zygomycosis (without Entomophthorales).
Though dangerous with a high mortality rate of 50 percent to 85 percent, statistics released from the American Oncology Center show that only approximately 0.7 percent of the patients had the disease (1). Similarly, data from the Italian review center revealed that only 1 percent of acute leukemia patients had the condition (2). Latest figures on mortality by Mucormycosis can be accessed on the following Web site: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/mor_zyg-mortality-zygomycosis.
What exactly does one get when they are afflicted with Mucormycosis? The symptoms are wide-ranging depending upon the type of fungus that has caused the infection and the part of the body it infects. I have provided a brief but comprehensive list below that will give you a fair idea of the symptoms of Mucormycosis. A patient may get one or more of these symptoms depending of the type the patient has contracted.
• Pain behind the eyes accompanied by swelling of the eye
• One-sided headaches
• Facial pain
• Black discharge from the nasal passage
• Blood in cough
• Severe sinusitis
• Nausea and vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• Laboured breathing
• Reddening and then blackening of skin
• Flank pain
• Seizures of brain, paralysis etc
• Disintegration of the mouth palate, eye socket and nasal passage
Luckily there are a number of tests that get a quick diagnosis on the condition that facilitate speedy treatment and recovery. Late diagnosis may result in disfiguration of the face. Sometimes a combination of tests may be used instead of a single test to reach a confirmatory diagnosis.
1. A CAT scan of the head, face, abdominal and chest cavities or a MRI of the heart and lung cavities may be ordered to see the exact nature and locale of the problem.
2. An ENT Specialist may be referred to if sinus and nasal passage are affected.
3. A swab of the infected tissue (skin, throat, lung discharge etc) may be done but may prove unreliable.
4. Photomicrographs exhibiting the presence of mature spores of the fungus.
5. Biopsy and culture of the specimen involved.
6. A Complete Blood Count is often prescribed to study the arterial gases in the blood which will enable homeostasis and acidosis correction
7. An iron overload test may also be accompanied to exhibit low iron binding capacity of ferritin.
8. A study of the cerebrospinal fluid is done to get to the depth of central nervous System damage.
9. In such cases where there are doubts of pulmonary involvement, a broncho-alveolar lavage biopsy is performed.
Like for many conditions, differential diagnosis is practiced even in the case of Mucormycosis, especially because it has a range of symptoms that are common to many conditions. Thus, differential diagnosis method is often followed by physicians in treating such patients, such as ruling out of conditions like colonic and bowel obstruction, anthrax, pulmonary embolism, cellulitis, ileocecal tuberculosis, aspergillosis (etc). This also depends on your risk factors,like AIDS, a transplant recipient, steroid user, diabetic, serving an occupation that exposes you to soil and decaying vegetation.
In my next post, you can read all about the various treatment options available to a Mucormycosis patient, prognosis and prevention techniques to the condition.
1) Rebecca J. Frey, PhD. "Mucormycosis". Health A to Z. Retrieved 2008-05-19
2) Nancy F Crum-Cianflone, MD MPH. "Mucormycosis". eMedicine. Retrieved 2008-05-19.
Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman (Publisher: Rupa & Co.) and the upcoming Rev Up Your Life! (Publisher: Hay House India). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Link: http://www.migrainingjenny.wordpress.com and http://www.footstrike.wordpress.com
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I am humbled by your words. May God bless your father with a speedy recovery.March 6, 2010 - 9:10am
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Oh Wow! My father was diagnosed about 4 months ago with a fungal infection in his lungs and is still not completely well. I'm definitely forwarding your article to my mother/father as you've included some great info. Thanks!March 1, 2010 - 10:32pm