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    Mucormycosis is a fungal infection of the sinuses, brain, or lungs that occursin somepeople with a weakened immune system.


    Mucormycosis is caused by a common fungus frequently found in the soil and in dying plants. Most people come in contact with the fungus at some time. However,people with a weakened immune system are more likely to get this infection.

    Conditions most commonly associated with mucormycosis include:

    • AIDS
    • Burns
    • Diabetes (usually poorly controlled)
    • Leukemia and lymphoma
    • Long-term steroid use
    • Metabolic acidosis
    • Poor nutrition (malnutrition)
    • Use of some medicines, such asdeferoxamine

    Mucormycosis may involve:

    • Sinus and brain infection (rhinocerebral infection), which may start as a sinus infection, then causes swelling of the cranial nerves. It maycause blood clots that block vessels to the brain.
    • Lung infection (pulmonary mucormycosis):pneumonia that gets worse quickly and may spread to the chest cavity, heart, and brain.
    • Other parts of the body: Mucormycosis of the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and kidneys


    Symptoms of rhinocerebral mucormycosis include:

    • Eye swelling and protrusion (proptosis)
    • Dark nasal eschar (scabbing)
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Mental status changes
    • Redness of skin overlying sinuses
    • Sinus pain or congestion

    Symptoms of lung (pulmonary) mucormycosis include:

    • Cough
    • Coughing blood (occasionally)
    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath

    Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis include:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Blood in the stools
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting blood

    Symptoms of kidney (renal) mucormycosis include:

    • Fever
    • Flank (side) pain

    Symptoms of skin (cutaneous) mucormycosis include a single, painful, hardened area of skin that may have a blackened center.

    Exams and Tests

    The doctor or nurse will examine you. An ear-nose-throat (ENT) doctor should be seen if you are having sinus problems.

    Testing depends on your symptoms but may include:

    • CT scans
    • MRI scans

    A biopsy must be done tomake a definitive diagnosis of mucormycosis.


    Surgery should be done immediately to remove all dead and infected tissue. Surgery can lead to disfiguration because it may involve removal of the palate, parts of the nose, or parts of the eye. Without such aggressive surgery, however, chances of survival are greatly decreased.

    You will also receive antifungal medicines through a vein, usually amphotericin B.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Mucormycosis has an extremely high death rate even when aggressive surgery is done. Death rates range from 25 - 85% depending on the body area involved and your overall health.

    Possible Complications

    • Blindness (if the optic nerve is involved)
    • Clotting or blockage of brain or lung blood vessels (thrombosis)
    • Death
    • Nerve damage

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    People with weakened immune systems and immune disorders (including diabetes) should seek medical attention if they develop fever, headache, sinus pain, eye swelling, or any of the other symptoms listed above.


    Because the fungi that cause mucormycosis are widespread, the most appropriate preventive measures involve improved control of the underlying illnesses associated with mucormycosis.


    Kontoyiannis DP. Mucormycosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 348.

    Kontoyiannis DP, Lewis RE. Agents of mucormycosis and entomophthoramycosis.In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 259.


    • Fungus


      • Fungus


      Review Date: 10/6/2012

      Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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