ZocdocAnswersWhat is fusarium infection?

Question

What is fusarium infection?

My elderly mom has been in very ill health for the better part of a year. When she was back in the hospital last month, she came down with something her doctor called a fusarium infection. He said it could be treated topically, but it's still alarming that she got it in the hospital. How is that possible? What is it?

Answer

Fusarium is a type of infectious fungus that infects patients with compromised immune systems. The fungus itself is ubiquitous in nature, normally found in soil. So why isn't everyone getting fusarium infections? Because a competent immune system will detect and destroy this microbe without the host even knowing about it. However, immunosuppressed patients (normally due to bone marrow transplant, cancers of the blood, chronic illness or high dose steroids) can not protect themselves from this fungus and are infected. The difference in the severity of the the infection has to do with the whether or not the fungus is localized (i.e. skin, eyes) vs disseminated (in the blood). A localized infection, such as the one your mother left the hospital with, is appropriately treated with topical antifungal medication. however, disseminated infection (i.e. when the fungus invades the blood stream and thus has access to the organ systems in the body) is a very dangerous condition and requires IV antifungal medication in a hospital setting. fortunately, disseminated infection in rare and is only seen with any frequency in severely immunocompromised patients. that being said, superficial or localized infection does have the potential to spread and therefore if your mother starts to develop fevers, joint/muscle pain or her general condition seems to be deteriorating, she should immediately be brought back to the hospital for further evaluation.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.