Mycetoma is a chronic infection, newly designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a neglected tropical disease, which is endemic in tropical and subtropical regions. It follows implantation of infectious organisms, either fungi (eumycetomas) or filamentous bacteria (actinomycetomas) into subcutaneous tissue, from where infection spreads to involve skin, bone and subcutaneous sites, leading to both health related and socioeconomic problems. In common with other NTDs, mycetoma is most often seen in rural areas amongst the poorest of people who have less access to health care. The organisms form small microcolonies that are discharged onto the skin surface via sinus tracts, or that can burrow into other adjacent tissues including bone. This paper describes the clinical features of mycetoma, as early recognition is a key to early diagnosis and the institution of appropriate treatment including surgery. Because these lesions are mostly painless and the majority of infected individuals present late and with advanced disease, simplifying early recognition is an important public health goal.
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