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Fungal Diseases

Fungal infections can be difficult to detect and as a result can lead to serious illness or death. PDPH takes a One Health approach to fungal diseases and recognizes the interconnectedness of humans, animals and the environment. Learn more about this transdisciplinary approach to health by visiting CDC's One Health Page. Fungal pathogens can cause infections in humans, animals and plants.


Candida auris

  • Candida auris is a difficult to detect yeast that can cause life-threatening infections.
  • It is easily spread and often very resistant to antifungal medications.
  • Candida auris was first detected in the Philadelphia region in 2020. Cases have been detected in multiple levels of care including acute care hospitals, long-term acute care hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities. 
    • See the Health Alert released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and PDPH for more details. 
  • If Candida auris is detected or suspected, the case should immediately be reported to PDPH and the isolate forwarded for confirmatory testing. 
  • Check out CDC’s map of Candida auris cases by state


Azole-Resistant Aspergillus 

  • Aspergillus fumigatus is a common fungus that can be found both indoors and outdoors.
  • It can cause life-threatening infections in those with weakened immune systems or lung problems. 
  • Azoles are anti-fungal agents that are used in medicine to treat fungal infections of the body and skin.
  • Emergence of azole-resistance in A. fumigatus is likely due to the widespread use of azole fungicides in agriculture.
  • Azole-resistant A. fumigatus cases have been reported in the Philadelphia area. Read this MMWR article for more details on reported cases.
  • In patients with high risk conditions such as stem cell or organ transplants, mortality from azole-resistant invasive aspergillosis is higher than 50%. 
  • Most laboratories do not perform mold susceptibility testing so it is not clear how widespread azole resistance is at this time.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is requesting A. fumigatus isolates for mold susceptibility testing. 


Fungal Disease Awareness Week

Every September the CDC and PDPH promotes Fungal Disease Awareness Week.

Fungal infections can often go undiagnosed, it’s important to “Think Fungus”. 

In addition to Candida auris and A. fumigatus, the CDC also is raising awareness of other fungal diseases that may be found in this region including blastomycosis, histoplasmosis, and cryptococcal infections. 

  • Blastomycosis is caused by the Blastomyces fungus. 
    • This fungus lives in the environment, particularly in areas with decomposing wood or leaves. 
    • Some people infected with blastomycosis may have flu-like symptoms.
    • Infections can become serious if not treated. 
  • Histoplasmosis is caused by the Histoplasma fungus. 
    • This fungus lives in the environment, particularly in soil with many bird or bat droppings.
    • Common symptoms are fever, cough, and fatigue.
    • While many people will recover on their own, those with weakened immune systems may suffer severe infections. 
  • Cryptococcal infections are usually caused by Cryptococcus neoformans
    • This fungus lives in the environment.
    • It rarely causes infections in healthy individuals most commonly occurring in individuals with advanced HIV/AIDS.
    • Infections can occur in the lungs and spread to the brain, causing cryptococcal meningitis.
    • Timely identification and treatment is life saving.


Check out CDC’s Fungal Disease Personal Stories for more information on these infections and how they have affected real people. 

Check out the Changing Epidemiology of Fungal Pathogens webinar from Fungal Disease Awareness week.

Check out PDPH’s social media posts during Fungal Diseases Awareness Week and spread the word! 

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