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Environmental Analysis

Opportunistic fungal pathogen screen (quantitative) [C114]

Published: July 8th, 2009

Revised: June 6th, 2011

Aspergillus fumigatusSerious infections caused by filamentous or dimorphic fungi are rare in immunologically normal people and normally only caused by one of several pathogenic species. In people with varying degrees of immune dysfunction, however, serious fungal infections are common, and may be caused by a much larger set of fungi many of which are not pathogenic under normal circumstances. These fungi are sometimes called “opportunistic pathogens”, in reference to their proclivity to invade tissues given the opportunity presented by immune compromise. While not typically a problem in the broad community, opportunistic fungal pathogens can be important agents of serious and even fatal disease in health care institutions.

Culture-based methods are the current gold-standard for the detection of opportunistic fungal pathogens (Mayhall 2003). This test is read rapidly (at 48 hr) by culture-dependent evaluation of the presence of the most commonly occurring agents of opportunistic fungal disease on bulk, swab or wipe samples. Results are reported on the same day that the samples are read.

Field sampling method

The quantitative version of this test is suitable for bulk samples only, and cannot be conducted with swab or wipe samples. Bulk samples should be collected individually and sealed in an envelope of plastic pouch. Damp samples should not be placed in plastic in order to prevent microbial growth post sampling.

Results reporting

Results of this test are reported quantiatively in Colony Forming Units per milligram of material (CFU/mg), and broken down according to taxon identified. The following taxa are specifically assayed by this test:

  • Absidia (sensu Lichthemia) species (including A. corymbifera)
  • Acremonium species
  • Aspergillus species complexes (including A. flavus, A. fumigatus, A. lentulus, Neosartorya species, Emericella/ Aspergillus nidulans, A. niger, A. terreus, and A. ustus)
  • Cunninghamella species (including C. bertholletiae)
  • Dematiaceous fungi with opportunistic potential (including Curvularia species and relatives, Cladophialophora species and others)
  • Exophiala species
  • Fusarium species complexes (including F. solani, F. dimerum, F verticillioides, and F. oxysporum)
  • Mucor species (including M. circinelloides and M. indicus)
  • Paecilomyces species (including P. lilacinus and P. variotii species complexes)
  • Phaeoacremonium species
  • Phialemonium species
  • Rhizomucor species
  • Rhizopus species (excluding R. stolonifer)
  • Scedosporium species (including S. apiospermum and S. prolificans species complexes)
  • Trichoderma species (including T. citrinoviride/ longibrachiatum complex)
  • Trichosporon species

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