The tissue invasive opportunistic mycoses are a group of fungal infections that occur almost exclusively in immunocompromised patients. The type of patient who. acquires an opportunistic fungal infection is one who is compromised by some underlying disease process such as lymphoma, leukemia, diabetes mellitus, or another
defect of the immune system. Many patients, particularly those who undergo some type of transplantation, are often placed on treatment with corticosteroids, cytotoxic drugs, or other immunosuppressive agents to control rejection of the transplanted organ. Many fungi previously thought to be nonpathogenic are now recognized as etiologic agents of opportunistic fungal infections. Because most of the organisms known to cause infection in this group of patients are commonly encountered in the clinical laboratory as saprobes (saprophytic fungi), it may be impossible for the laboratorian to determine the clinical significance of these isolates recovered from clinical specimens. It is necessary, therefore, that the laboratory identify and report completely the presence of all fungi recovered, because each is a potential pathogen. Many of the organisms associated with opportunistic infections are acquired during construction, demolition, or remodeling of buildings, or are hospital-acquired. Other information regarding the specific clinical aspects of the opportunistic fungal infections is discussed with each individual organism.
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