What is Emergomycosis?
Emergomycosis is a disease caused by the fungus Emergomyces (formerly called Emmonsia). Emergomyces is a thermally-dimorphic fungus meaning it grows as a thread-like mould in the environment and as a yeast (a single-celled fungus) when it causes human infections. This fungus causes disease in people with weakened immune systems worldwide especially those with HIV. It is possible that this fungus is found in soil and people can get infected by inhaling fungal spores. The number of people with the disease is very small (fewer than 200 cases diagnosed in total to date) compared to other infections that affect people with advanced HIV disease, e.g. TB and cryptococcosis. In order to confirm the diagnosis of emergomycosis, specimens from a patient (e.g. blood, sputum) is sent to a laboratory for culture and/or histology. Culture involves plating the specimen out onto appropriate growth media and observing mould growth within one to three weeks. Histology involves direct visualisation of Emergomyces yeast cells in infected tissues. Treatment of emergomycosis requires prescription antifungal medicines such as amphotericin B followed by itraconazole.