Hospital-related outbreaks due to rare fungal pathogens: a review of the literature from 1990 to June 2011

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2012 Nov;31(11):2897-904. doi: 10.1007/s10096-012-1661-3. Epub 2012 Jun 3.


Fungi can cause severe infections. Two or more nosocomial unusual fungal infections diagnosed in a short period should be assumed as an outbreak. The review's aim was to collect data to improve their management. The free online worldwide database for nosocomial outbreaks ( ) and the PubMed/MEDLINE database were used to collect the English literature published from 1990 to June 2011. The more common Candida spp. and Aspergillus spp. infections were excluded. For each outbreak, the following data were reviewed: species, duration, source and site of infection, ward, risk factors, number of patients infected, treatment, related mortality, type of epidemiological study and time elapsed between index cases and second cases. Thirty-six reports were considered: yeasts caused the majority of the outbreaks (16 out of 36). The median values for the overall duration, number of infected people per outbreak and infection-related mortality were 5 months, 4 and 20 %, respectively. Eighteen cases were caused by contaminated substances and 13 cases were hypothesised as human-transmitted. Nosocomial outbreaks due to rare fungal pathogens involve few patients but have high related mortality. These results could be explained by the diagnostic delay, the inability of recognising the source of the infections and the challenges of the treatment. More efforts should be concentrated to implement the application of proper hygiene practices to avoid human-human transmission.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • Cross Infection / mortality
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Mycoses / drug therapy
  • Mycoses / epidemiology*
  • Mycoses / microbiology*
  • Mycoses / mortality
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antifungal Agents