Fungus discovered in Southern Africa only a risk for HIV patients

There have been reports of a dangerous fungus discovered in South Africa.

Named Emergo-myces Africanus, the fungus was only identified in 2013. It can cause emergo-mycosis in humans, a condition that kills approximately half the people it infects.

Pippa Hudson speaks to Dr Charlotte Sriruttan, a pathologist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, who explains that healthy people are not at risk.

Emergo-myces Africanus is a newly discovered fungus and is part of a larger group...but so far has only been found in Southern Africa....initially detected in patients from the Western Cape.

Dr Charlotte Sriruttan, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

Since then, patients from all provinces in South Africa and Lesotho have been diagnosed with emergo-mycosis.

She says it has only caused disease in severely immunosuppressed HIV patients so far.

So the important message, is that healthy people are not known to be at risk of this disease and it cannot be spread from person to person.

Dr Charlotte Sriruttan, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

Fewer than one hundred cases have been diagnosed to date, she says.

Patients most often present wit widespread skin lesions, fever, loss of weight, and lung symptoms

Dr Charlotte Sriruttan, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

The drought and weather conditions unlikely to have caused this fungus, she says, but it is more likely that new diagnostic tools have allowed for identification.

Studies are at a nascent stage and have not proved that it can be contracted from soil, she says.

Take a listen to what to do if you are at risk:


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