Mucormycosis (Zygomycosis)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

Mucormycosis (zygomycosis) facts

  • Mucormycosis (zygomycosis) is a serious, potentially deadly fungal infection that's infrequently diagnosed.
  • Many different fungi may cause mucormycosis; infections with the Mucoraceae family of fungi predominate as causes; hence, many investigators use the term mucormycosis instead of zygomycosis.
  • Risk factors include poorly controlled debilitating diseases (including diabetes), immunosuppression and trauma (usually serious injuries), and groups of such patients injured in natural disasters.
  • Symptoms and signs first appear usually in the body area infected and may occur as follows: fever, headache, reddish and swollen skin over nose and sinuses, dark scabbing in nose by eye(s), visual problems, eye(s) swelling, facial pain, coughing sometimes with bloody or dark fluid production, shortness of breath, diffuse abdominal pain, bloody and sometimes dark vomitus, abdominal distension, flank pain, an ulcer with a dark center and sharply defined edges, and mental-status changes may occur.
  • Preliminary diagnosis is made by patient history, physical exam, and the patient's risk factors for mucormycosis; definitive diagnosis is made by identification of fungi in the patient's tissue.
  • Almost all patients require surgical debridement of infected tissue, antifungal drugs (mainly amphotericin B), and good control (treatment) of underlying medical problems such as diabetes.
  • Complications of mucormycosis can be dire: blindness, organ dysfunction, loss of body tissue due to infection and debridement, and death.
  • The prognosis (outcomes) of mucormycosis infections range from fair to poor; there is about a 50% death rate that rises to about 85% for rhinocerebral and GI infections.
  • Prevention of mucormycosis centers on avoidance or control of risk factors (see above), but not all infections are likely to be prevented; there is no vaccine for mucormycosis.
  • Research shows mucormycosis infection incidences are increasing, especially with immunosuppressed individuals. More research may occur as the number of infections increase.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/23/2015

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