Clinical characteristics, diagnosis, management, and outcomes of disseminated emmonsiosis: a retrospective case series

Ilan S Schwartz, Nelesh P Govender, Craig Corcoran, Sipho Dlamini, Hans Prozesky, Rosie Burton, Marc Mendelson, Jantjie Taljaard, Rannakoe Lehloenya, Greg Calligaro, Robert Colebunders, Chris Kenyon

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: We describe the geographic distribution, clinical characteristics, and management of patients with disease caused by Emmonsia sp., a novel dimorphic fungal pathogen recently described in South Africa.

METHODS: We performed a multicenter, retrospective chart review of laboratory-confirmed cases of emmonsiosis diagnosed across South Africa from January 2008 through February 2015.

RESULTS: Fifty-four patients were diagnosed in 5/9 provinces. Fifty-one patients (94%) were human immunodeficiency virus coinfected (median CD4 count 16 cells/µL [interquartile range, 6-40]). In 12 (24%) of these, antiretroviral therapy had been initiated in the preceding 2 months. All patients had disseminated disease, most commonly involving skin (n = 50/52, 96%) and lung (n = 42/48, 88%). Yeasts were visualized on histopathologic examination of skin (n = 34/37), respiratory tissue (n = 2/4), brain (n = 1/1), liver (n = 1/2), and bone marrow (n = 1/15). Emmonsia sp. was cultured from skin biopsy (n = 20/28), mycobacterial/fungal and aerobic blood culture (n = 15/25 and n = 9/37, respectively), bone marrow (n = 12/14), lung (n = 1/1), lymph node (n = 1/1), and brain (n = 1/1). Twenty-four of 34 patients (71%) treated with amphotericin B deoxycholate, 4/12 (33%) treated with a triazole alone, and none of 8 (0%) who received no antifungals survived. Twenty-six patients (48%) died, half undiagnosed.

CONCLUSIONS: Disseminated emmonsiosis is more widespread in South Africa and carries a higher case fatality rate than previously appreciated. Cutaneous involvement is near universal, and skin biopsy can be used to diagnose the majority of patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1004-1012
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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