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N Engl J Med. 2013 Oct 10;369(15):1416-24. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1215460.

A dimorphic fungus causing disseminated infection in South Africa.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.



The genus emmonsia contains three species that are associated with human disease. Emmonsia crescens and Emmonsia parva are the agents that cause adiaspiromycosis, and one human case of Emmonsia pasteuriana infection has been described. We report a fungal pathogen within the genus emmonsia that is most closely related to E. pasteuriana in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults in South Africa.


Between July 2008 and July 2011, we conducted enhanced surveillance to identify the cause of systemic, dimorphic fungal infections in patients presenting to Groote Schuur Hospital and other hospitals affiliated with the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. DNA sequencing was used to identify pathogenic fungi.


A total of 24 cases of dimorphic fungal infection were diagnosed, 13 of which were caused by an emmonsia species. All 13 patients were HIV-infected, with a median CD4+ T-cell count of 16 cells per cubic millimeter (interquartile range, 10 to 44), and all had evidence of disseminated fungal disease. Three patients died soon after presentation, but the others had a good response to a variety of antifungal agents and antiretroviral therapy. Phylogenetic analysis of five genes (LSU, ITS1-2, and the genes encoding actin, β-tubulin, and intein PRP8) revealed that this fungus belongs in the genus emmonsia and is most closely related to E. pasteuriana.


The findings suggest that these isolates of an emmonsia species represent a new species of dimorphic fungus that is pathogenic to humans. The species appears to be an important cause of infections in Cape Town.

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