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A group of fungi cause mucormycosis. They're in soil, decaying plants or wood, and compost piles. The fungi enter the body through cuts in the skin or by inhaling it into the sinuses and lungs. Once in the body, the fungi can spread fast.
In healthy people, the body removes the fungi before problems start.
Your risk is highest if your immune system is weak. This can happen with:
- Blood cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma
- Blood disorders such as neutropenia
- Prior stem cell transplant
- Poorly controlled diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis
- Prior organ transplant
- Long-term steroid use
- Injuries or burns
- Chronic sinus infection
- Autoimmune disease
- Prior care for iron poisoning with deferoxamine
- HIV infection
- IV drug use
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Symptoms will depend where the infection starts. These may involve:
- Facial pain
- Swollen or protruding eyes
- Redness of the skin over the sinuses
- Cough—may be with blood
- Breathing problems
- Belly pain
- Vomiting blood
- Pain in the side between the upper belly and the back
A skin infection may start with blisters or sores around the skin wound. The skin tissue may later be tender, red, swollen, and turn black.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also have:
Care will start right away even without a confirmed diagnosis. Medicines will fight the fungal infection. Surgery removes dead tissue. The earlier care starts, the faster you can be healthy.
The fungi are in many places, so they're hard to avoid. If you have a weak immune system, your doctor may give you medicines to prevent infection. Wash your hands regularly and avoid people who are sick.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
The Lung Association
Mucormycosis. Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/mucormycosis/index.html. Updated December 30, 2015. Accessed May 22, 2018.
Mucormycosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114052/Mucormycosis . Updated August 12, 2016. Accessed May 22, 2018.
Mucormycosis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/fungi/mucormycosis. Updated November 2017. Accessed May 22, 2018.
- Reviewer: David L. Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 05/2018
- Update Date: 05/22/2018