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Zygomycosis and the Joplin Tornado


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Slide 4

July 2011

Zygomycosis is a term you see on the slide as a heading but a lot of people like to use the term mucormycosis. That is an old term that seems to be revived now but zygomycosis is caused by a number of different fungi and they all belong to the group zygomycetes. For example, Mucor, Rhizopus, Lichtheimia which is one you are probably not familiar with, it’s a new term for Absidia and Apophysomyces and some others, many other fungi. These organisms are found as part of the normal flora in the environment. They are found in decaying wood and vegetation leaves, all kinds of plant material that is decomposing and in the case of the Joplin tornado; these organisms were in the environment and spread in the tornado. They were actually uplifted from the soil by the wind velocity and taken around all over the city of Joplin. We think of zygomycosis, the first thing we think about is rhinocerebral disease for the nose, the sinuses and eventually the brain and the orbital sinuses become involved. That occurs primarily in immunocompromised hosts, in particular, the diabetic with acute state of ketoacidosis. And brain abscess also is a consequent of that same type of infection. Pulmonary infection occurs in immunocompromised hosts, transplant patients, and so on. Gastrointestinal disease occurs and disseminated disease occurs particularly in transplant patients. Localized soft tissue infection happens and down below on the right hand side, you can see this happens to be the leg of someone who ended up getting zygomycosis and if you look close you can see the tendons that are actually growing mold on the surface of the tendons and this is the type of situation that is probably occurring in the Joplin infection.



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