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Update on the Identification of Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii

Rapid Detection using PCR

Published: August 2012

Hot Topic Q&A is an opportunity for viewers to submit questions to the Hot Topic presenter. The opportunity to submit questions for this topic is now closed.

The following questions were submitted by viewers and answered by the presenter, Nancy L Wengenack, PhD, Director of the Mycology and Mycobacteriology Laboratories and Associate Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology in the Division of Clinical Microbiology at Mayo Clinic.

Questions are presented as submitted (unedited).

  1. What is the treatment and length of illness?

    Both the treatment and the length of the illness are dependent on a number of factors including host immune status and the severity of exposure. Often times, primary pulmonary infections are asymptomatic or mild in nature and can run their course without the need for antifungal therapy. More severe infections, particularly in immunocompromised hosts, can require therapy with antifungal agents like amphotericin B or an oral azole. The duration of therapy also varies according to host factors but can require a year or more to complete.

  2. Why is cocci considered a bioterrorism agent....because it is easily transmitted?

    In part yes, but the good news is that there is a recommendation to remove Coccidioides immits/Coccidioides posadasii from the Federal Select Agent list since, among other things, the organism is endemic in the desert Southwest and there is antifungal therapy available. This recommendation has been endorsed by the American Society for Microbiology and laboratorians everywhere are hopeful that this recommendation will be adopted by the CDC/Select Agent program soon.