Tags: Abscesses

Echinococcal Infection

The normal life cycle of Echinococcus species does not involve humans. Human disease occurs when humans become an accidental intermediate host for the parasite, and tissue invasion is followed by the formation of cysts (hydatid cysts).

American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas’ Disease)

T cruzi is found only in the Western Hemisphere, where it ranges from the southern United States to Argentina. An estimated 16 million-18 million people in Latin America have chronic T cruzi infections and ~ 50,000 die of Chagas’ disease each year. In the United States, there has been concern about transmission of the organism via blood transfusion from unsuspected infected donors who are immigrants from endemic zones. Similar concerns arise for organ transplant recipients.

Toxoplasma Gondii

Toxoplasma gondii infection, or toxoplasmosis, is a zoonosis (the definitive hosts are members of the cat family). The two most common routes of infection in humans are by oral ingestion of the parasite and by transplacental (congenital) transmission to the fetus. Ingestion of undercooked or raw meat that contains cysts or of water or food contaminated with oocysts results in acute infection.

Non-falciparum Malaria (P Vivax, P Ovale, P Malariae)

Patients with nonfalciparum malaria invariably develop fever and chills that may become cyclic. Initially, patients experience chills, which are followed by fever (Box 1). Patients with malaria often manifest many nonspecific symptoms such as weakness, malaise, headache, and myalgias. As the disease progresses, signs of anemia, such as pale conjunctiva, may be seen.

Paracoccidioidomycosis

Paracoccidioidomycosis is caused by Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. Also known as South American blastomycosis, it is the most prevalent systemic mycosis found in Central and South America and is the most common endemic mycosis in this area. Paracoccidioidomycosis is acquired only in Central and South America and ranges from Mexico to Argentina.

Penicillium Infections

Penicillium spp. are ubiquitous in nature and may be recovered with ease from a variety of sources within the hospital environment. These molds commonly contaminate clinical specimens and cause contamination in the laboratory. Colonization of nonsterile anatomical sites in humans is common. In most cases where Penicillium spp. are recovered from clinical specimens, they represent colonization.

Aspergillus, Pseudallescheria, & Agents of Mucormycosis

Aspergillus spp. are found worldwide and grow in a variety of conditions. They commonly grow in soil and moist locations and are among the most common molds encountered on spoiled food and decaying vegetation, in compost piles, and in stored hay and grain. Aspergillus spp. often grow in houseplant soil, and such soil may be a source of Aspergillus conidia or spores in the home, office, or hospital setting. The airborne conidia are extremely heat resistant and can withstand extreme environmental conditions.

Candida Species

Candida organisms are commensal with humans and, in the absence of alterations in host defense mechanisms, usually do not cause disease. Candida exists as normal flora within the oral cavity, throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, in expectorated sputum, in the vagina, and in the bladder of patients with indwelling catheters. There are >150 species within the genus Candida, although the majority are not known to cause disease in humans. C albicans, C krusei, C glabrata, C tropicalis, C pseudotropicalis, C guilliermondii, C parapsilosis, C lusitaniae, and C rugosa are known human pathogens.

Candidemia & Disseminated Candidiasis

Candidemia may present in a variety of fashions, ranging from asymptomatic to fulminant sepsis. The candidemic patient generally has risk factors for infection, such as malignancy, chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, organ transplantation, GI surgery, burns, indwelling catheters, or exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics. Disseminated candidiasis must be assumed to be present in those with positive blood cultures, although negative cultures do not preclude the possibility of disseminated disease. Dissemination usually manifests with many microabscesses involving multiple organs, especially the liver, spleen, and eye, but almost any organ may be involved (Box 2).