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Many fungi in the environment cause disease in immunocompromised human hosts. Accordingly, the range of potential pathogenic fungi has increased as the number of immunosuppressed individuals (eg, persons with AIDS, patients receiving chemotherapy or transplant rejection therapy) has increased. Isolation and identification of the infecting fungus in the clinical laboratory can help guide patient care.
Diagnosing fungal infections from specimens other than blood, skin, hair, nail, and vagina (separate tests are available for these specimen sites)
Positive cultures of yeast and filamentous fungi are reported with the organism identification.
The clinician must determine whether or not the presence of an organism is significant. A final negative report is issued after 24 days of incubation.
For optimal recovery of organisms, sufficient specimen should be transported within 24 hours of collection.
Fungi can be pathogens, colonizers, or contaminants. Correlation of the patient clinical condition with culture results is necessary.
Nocardia and the other aerobic actinomycetes are not fungi and, therefore, a fungal culture should not be ordered. These organisms grow well on mycobacterial medium and therefore ordering a mycobacterial culture is recommended when infection with this group of organisms is suspected.
If positive, fungus will be identified.
Shea YR: General approaches for detection and identification of fungi. In Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 10th edition. Edited by J Versalovic, KC Carroll, et al. Washington, DC, ASM Press, 2011, pp 1776-1792