Fungi are eukaryotic organisms with one or more cells. Some species can lead to infections in humans. Infestation with fungi, also called mycosis, may affect different areas of the body. Superficial infection of the skin (dermatomycosis) and skin appendices, such as nails, is characterised by skin changes, itching, burning and scaling of the tissue.
In persons with an extremely weakened immune system, infections can lead to invasive mycoses, which affect the inner organs and may lead to sepsis. The pathogens enter the body by inhalation of the persisting stages (spores) or contaminated foods. The infection may remain limited to the entrance site or spread throughout the body. Moulds of the Aspergillus genus and yeasts of the genus Candida are especially relevant. Mainly haemato-oncological patients, bone-marrow transplanted patients or patients with immune diseases or a suppressed immune system are affected, since the immune system is not able to fight the pathogen growth.
Diagnostics of dermatomycoses is based on the clinical image and supported by direct pathogen detection. Differentiation of the causative pathogen is indispensable for selection of a suitable treatment.
Since invasive mycoses can be severe and even life-threatening, an early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential. Since symptoms such as fever are unspecific, the diagnostics is based on imaging or culturing methods, which are supported by further diagnostic methods such as detection of Aspergillus antigens and antibodies against Candida.