Mucormycosis is an angioinvasive fungal infection, due to fungi of the order Mucorales. Its incidence cannot be measured exactly, since there are few population-based studies, but multiple studies have shown that it is increasing. The prevalence of mucormycosis in India is about 80 times the prevalence in developed countries, being approximately 0.14 cases per 1000 population. Diabetes mellitus is the main underlying disease globally, especially in low and middle-income countries. In developed countries the most common underlying diseases are hematological malignancies and transplantation. Τhe epidemiology of mucormycosis is evolving as new immunomodulating agents are used in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases, and as the modern diagnostic tools lead to the identification of previously uncommon genera/species such as Apophysomyces
complex. In addition, new risk factors are reported from Asia, including post-pulmonary tuberculosis and chronic kidney disease. New emerging species include Rhizopus homothallicus
, Thamnostylum lucknowense
, Mucor irregularis
and Saksenaea erythrospora
. Diagnosis of mucormycosis remains challenging. Clinical approach to diagnosis has a low sensitivity and specificity, it helps however in raising suspicion and prompting the initiation of laboratory testing. Histopathology, direct examination and culture remain essential tools, although the molecular methods are improving. The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region is the most widely sequenced DNA region for fungi and it is recommended as a first-line method for species identification of Mucorales. New molecular platforms are being investigated and new fungal genetic targets are being explored. Molecular-based methods have gained acceptance for confirmation of the infection when applied on tissues. Methods on the detection of Mucorales DNA in blood have shown promising results for earlier and rapid diagnosis and could be used as screening tests in high-risk patients, but have to be validated in clinical studies. More, much needed, rapid methods that do not require invasive procedures, such as serology-based point-of-care, or metabolomics-based breath tests, are being developed and hopefully will be evaluated in the near future.
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