It is a well known that invasive fungal infections often remain undiagnosed because both doctors and laboratory workers have poor knowledge of these diseases.
This often leads to very low index of suspicion amongst the former and failed diagnosis amongst the latter even when the disease is suspected.
This often results in high levels of morbidity and mortality.
Medical mycology is often poorly taught in medical schools because there are few trainsers with the requisite knowledge.
The growing number of opportunities for learning about fungi, their diagnosis and management is thus timely and relevant, especially in developing countries.
Here are the links to currently available free online courses for budding medical mycologists:
- Antifungal stewardship course on the open online learning platform, Futureline courtesy of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, BSAC (started May 20th and schedule to last for 3 weeks)
- A microscopy training course in 4 key modules courtesy of the Fungal infection trust, Leading International Fungal Education ( LIFE) and the University of Manchester.
Coccidioidomycosis, also known as valley fever, is one of the classical endemic mycosis. It is an infection caused by Coccidioides. This fungus is known to live in soil in the southwestern United states and parts of Mexico and Central and South America. Thus coccidioidomycosis is thought to occur only in the Western hemisphere.
But is this really so? A recent case report in the Annals of Tropical Pathology proves contrary to this long-held belief. The authors reported a case of cutaneous coccidioidomycosis in a 28 year old HIV positive woman in Borno state, North-eastern Nigeria. The patient had never traveled to areas of known endemicity for the disease. The diagnosis was made on histopathology said to show the characteristic spherules and the patient was treated with fluconazole.
While the case is unusual, it calls for greater surveillance and epidemiological research. Another endemic mycosis, classical histoplasmosis, which was once thought to be confined to the Ohio and Misissippi valley areas of USA, has been increasingly diagnosed in many countries in other continents and is considered a neglected disease in Africa. Coccidioidomycosis might be no different.