After last May’s devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) reported an outbreak of the skin fungal infection mucormycosis. Mucormycosis is also known as zygomycosis.
One of the main reasons the people of Joplin were susceptible to mucormycosis was due to the piles of debris resulting from the aftermath of the tornado. Mucoromycotina is the fungus found in the soil beneath rotting leaves, wood or compost piles.
People with weakened immune systems generally succumb to mucormycosis. Those types of individuals include cancer patients, diabetics, transplant recipients. Nonetheless, there have been rare cases where healthy individuals have contracted mucormycosis.
Fortunately, this disease cannot be spread from person-to-person. However, this is a deadly disease and if you believe you have a murcormycosis infection, you need to contact your health care professional immediately. The murcormycosis infection needs to be treated immediately to prevent it from traveling to other parts of the body.
There are two forms of mucormycosis. According to the CDC, ʺthe pulmonary or sinus exposure occurs by inhaling fungal spores from the environment. These spores can cause an infection to develop in the lungs, sinuses, eyes, and face, and in rare cases can spread to the central nervous system.ʺ
The second form of of mucormycosis is the cutaneous form. The CDC website also stated, ʺthe fungus can enter the skin through cuts, scrapes, puncture wounds, or other forms of trauma to the skin.ʺ
Symptoms of pulmonary or sinus mucormycosis include:
• Symptoms of sinus infections
• Sinus pain
• Lung infections (with fever and cough symptoms)
Symptoms of cutaneous mucormycosis include:
• Skin infections resemble blisters or ulcers
• Infected tissue may turn black
• Excessive redness
• Swelling around a wound
Currently, there is no vaccine to treat mucormycosis.
But, the CDC recommends the following to prevent mucormycosis. If you are working with or around rotted wood, leaves, compost and soil, try the following:
• Contact and see your health care provider immediately if you are concerned about cuts, scrapes, or other skin injuries.
• Disinfect cuts and scrapes after contact with soil and decaying wood and remove items that are lodged under your skin, such as dirt or splinters.
• Wear protective clothing, such as gloves, pants and long-sleeved shirts if you are handling decaying wood.
Treatment for mucormycosis includes oral and intravenous antifungal medication. However, you may require surgery to remove skin infections.
CDC - Diagnosis & Testing of Mucormycosis - Mucormycosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 5, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/mucormycosis/outbreaks.html
CDC - Home - Mucormycosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 5, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/mucormycosis
Mucormycosis - PubMed Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved January 5, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001672
Mucormycosis: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved January 5, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000649.htm
Mucormycosis: The Basics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 5, 2012, from www.cdc.gov/fungal/pdf/mucormycosis-basics.pdf
Reviewed January 5, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
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