SEVERE FUNGAL INFECTIONS CAUSED BY “NON-PATHOGENIC” VERTICILLIUM FUNGI

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Verticillium is a mold (fungi) which commonly infects hundreds of types of plants including sunflowers, cotton, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, and many types of trees. Verticillium infection causes wilting and often death of the plant.
 

G Bashir et al. Fungemia cause by Verticillium species in an immunocompromised child. Indian Journal of Medical Microbioology 2006;24:65-6.

While Verticillium is menace to many types of plants, it is not generally believed to be pathogenic (disease causing) in humans. It can infect humans with compromised immune systems- such as those on cancer chemotherapy drugs, immunosuppressive drugs to prevent organ transplant rejection, and HIV infected. A case report was presented of a 6 year old boy who was being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia with immunosuppressive drugs. After 10 days of treatment with immunosuppressive drugs, the boy developed a serious fever, pallor, and anemia and was treated with antibiotics for 6 days without improvement. Cultures revealed an infection of Verticillium mold in the boys’ blood and on the tip of an indwelling catheter used to give him chemotherapy. The indwelling catheter was removed and the boy was then treated with the strong antifungal drug amphotericin B. With amphotericin B treatment, the boys’ fever disappeared in 2 days and was discharged from the hospital after 10 days feeling much better. The authors concluded that all febrile (having a fever) immunocompromised patients should receive frequent blood testing for mold (fungi) infections and given prompt anti-fungal medication when indicated.

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