van de Sande, Wendy W. J. Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
van Belkum, Alex Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Kobayashi, George Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.
Last reviewed:March 2019
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- Fungal allergies
- Infections by fungi
- Cutaneous mycoses
- Subcutaneous mycoses
- Systemic mycoses
- Antifungal agents
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Pathological conditions resulting from invasion by pathogenic fungi. Fungi are microorganisms that fill many natural niches in nature. They form a diverse group of eukaryotic microorganisms, including an estimated 2.2 to 3.8 million different species. Only a few hundred of these species are pathogenic to humans. Fungal infections in humans (Fig. 1) often reflect impaired immune function. Fungal infections were uncommon until the late 20th century. After the introduction of bacterial antibiotics that disrupted the normal bacterial flora of the human body, fungal infections became more common. Also, the development of immunosuppressive therapies and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic resulted in an increase in the number of fungal infections. In general, healthy humans have a very high level of natural immunity to fungi, and hence most fungal infections are mild and self-limiting. Intact skin and mucosal surfaces, an elevated body temperature, and a functional immune system serve as the primary barriers to colonization by fungi. See also: Antibiotic; Epidemiology; Fungal ecology; Fungi; Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); Immunity; Immunological deficiency; Immunology; Immunosuppression; Infection; Medical mycology; Mycology; Skin
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