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J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2013 Nov-Dec;60(6):634-45. doi: 10.1111/jeu.12072. Epub 2013 Sep 3.

The ecology of pneumocystis: perspectives, personal recollections, and future research opportunities.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45267-0560; Research Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45220.


I am honored to receive the second Lifetime Achievement Award by International Workshops on Opportunistic Protists and to give this lecture. My research involves Pneumocystis, an opportunistic pulmonary fungus that is a major cause of pneumonia ("PcP") in the immunocompromised host. I decided to focus on Pneumocystis ecology here because it has not attracted much interest. Pneumocystis infection is acquired by inhalation, and the cyst stage appears to be the infective form. Several fungal lung infections, such as coccidiomycosis, are not communicable, but occur by inhaling < 5 μm spores from environmental sources (buildings, parks), and can be affected by environmental factors. PcP risk factors include environmental constituents (temperature, humidity, SO2 , CO) and outdoor activities (camping). Clusters of PcP have occurred, but no environmental source has been found. Pneumocystis is communicable and outbreaks of PcP, especially in renal transplant patients, are an ongoing problem. Recent evidence suggests that most viable Pneumocystis organisms detected in the air are confined to a patient's room. Further efforts are needed to define the risk of Pneumocystis transmission in health care facilities; to develop more robust preventive measures; and to characterize the effects of climatological and air pollutant factors on Pneumocystis transmission in animal models similar to those used for respiratory viruses.


Air pollution; climate; contagion; fungi; reflections

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