Skip to main content
Average ER Wait Time
Checking ER Wait Time
The feed could not be reached
Retry?
Parkridge Medical Center
--
mins

Mucormycosis

Definition

Mucormycosis is an infection that can affect the sinuses, brain, lungs, and sometimes the skin. It is a serious infection that can be fatal.

Causes

Mucormycosis is caused by a fungus that is often found in soil, decaying plants or wood, and compost piles. The fungus enters the body through cuts or scrapes in the skin or by being inhaled into the sinuses and airways. Once in the body, the fungus can spread rapidly and quickly become fatal.

A healthy immune system can often manage the fungus and eliminate it before problems begin. However, the fungus can grow and cause severe damage if the body does not have a strong immune system.

Risk Factors

A weakened immune system increases your chance of mucormycosis. Conditions or treatments that weaken your immune system include:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis—a complication of diabetes
  • HIV infection
  • Leukemia or lymphoma
  • Being the recipient of an organ transplant
  • Long-term steroid use
  • Treatment with deferoxamine—an antidote to iron poisoning
  • Metabolic acidosis—too much acid in the blood

Chronic sinus infection can also increase your risk of mucormycosis.

Sinus Cavity
Sinus Infection
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Symptoms

Symptoms will depend on the location of the infection. Inhaled mucormycosis may lead to:

  • Fever
  • Facial pain
  • Swollen or protruding eyes
  • Redness of the skin over the sinuses
  • Cough; occasionally coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Pain in the side between the upper abdomen and the back

An infection in the skin may start with blisters or sores around the skin wound. The skin tissue may later be tender, red, swollen, and turn black.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A sample of the infected tissue will be taken and examined in a lab.

A CT scan or MRI scan may be done to look for damage to internal structures.

Treatment

Mucormycosis is a serious infection and requires aggressive treatment, including surgery to remove dead tissue. Early treatment can lead to better outcomes. Antifungal medication is started as soon as possible. It may be given as a pill or by IV.

Prevention

The fungus that causes this infection is found in many places. Avoiding contact with it is difficult.

The best preventative step is to control or prevent the conditions that make you vulnerable to mucormycosis.

Revision Information

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    http://www.cdc.gov

  • National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

    http://www.nfid.org

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • The Lung Association

    http://www.lung.ca

  • Mucormycosis. Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/mucormycosis/index.html. Updated February 13, 2014. Accessed June 11, 2015.

  • Radha S, Tameem T, et al. Gastric zygomycosis (mucormycosis). The Internet J Pathol. 2007;5(2).

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Parkridge Health System does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.