Emerging Fungal Infection in South West U.S. Mimics Cancer
ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2012) — An emerging fungal infection of the
gastrointestinal tract that mimics cancer and inflammatory bowel disease
appears to be emerging in the Southwestern United States and other desert
regions, according to Mayo Clinic researchers in Arizona investigating the
disease. The invasive fungus, Basidiobolus ranarum, is typically found in
the soil, decaying organic matter and the gastrointestinal tracts of fish,
reptiles, amphibians, and bats.
Mayo researchers studied 44 cases of human gastrointestinal
basidiobolomycosis reported from around the world, including 17 from
Arizona, one from southern Utah and one from elsewhere in the U.S. Eight
of the 44 patients died. Mayo's review of the cases is published online in
Basidiobolomycosis is usually a subcutaneous infection in the tropical and
subtropical regions of the world that develops following traumatic
inoculation of the fungus under the skin. The emergence of
gastrointestinal involvement with Basidiobolus in arid regions has been
"The exact mode of acquisition of this gastrointestinal infection is
unclear, although consumption of contaminated food or dirt is the favored
hypothesis," says lead author H.R. Vikram, M.D., an infectious diseases
physician at Mayo Clinic, where seven of the 19 U.S. cases studied were
treated. "The infection is still considered so rare that no one had put
together a complete description." He adds that more study needs to be done
to determine how this infection is contracted, what underlying diseases
might predispose patients to this infection and how best to treat it. He
emphasizes that early recognition is key to successful treatment.
The first U.S. case of gastrointestinal Basidiobolus infection was
reported in 1986. The CDC subsequently investigated six cases in Arizona
between 1994 and 1999. This sparked the interest of researchers at Mayo
Clinic in Arizona to study this infection.
Patients with this rare fungal infection had non-specific symptoms such as
abdominal pain or a mass that could be felt on examination. Before a
conclusive diagnosis of the fungal infection was made, most patients were
thought to have an abdominal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or
diverticulitis. Surgical resection of the area of involvement and
prolonged antifungal therapy successfully treated most patients.
Study co-authors include Jerry Smilack, M.D., retired; Infectious
Diseases; Jonathan Leighton, M.D., and Michael Crowell, Ph.D.,
Gastroenterology; and Giovanni De Petris, M.D., Anatomic Pathology.
The above story is reprinted from materials provided
Clinic, via Newswise.
1. H. R.
Vikram, J. D. Smilack, J. A. Leighton, M. D. Crowell, G. De Petris. Emergence
of Gastrointestinal Basidiobolomycosis in the United States, With a Review
of Worldwide Cases. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2012; DOI: 10.1093/cid/cis250
Mayo Clinic (2012, March 29). Emerging fungal infection in South West U.S.
mimics cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2012/03/120329225058.htm
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