Epidemiology of Rhodotorula: an emerging pathogen

Interdiscip Perspect Infect Dis. 2012;2012:465717. doi: 10.1155/2012/465717. Epub 2012 Oct 2.


This is an updated paper focusing on the general epidemiological aspects of Rhodotorula in humans, animals, and the environment. Previously considered nonpathogenic, Rhodotorula species have emerged as opportunistic pathogens that have the ability to colonise and infect susceptible patients. Rhodotorula species are ubiquitous saprophytic yeasts that can be recovered from many environmental sources. Several authors describe the isolation of this fungus from different ecosystems, including sites with unfavourable conditions. Compared to R. mucilaginosa, R. glutinis and R. minuta are less frequently isolated from natural environments. Among the few references to the pathogenicity of Rhodotorula spp. in animals, there are several reports of an outbreak of skin infections in chickens and sea animals and lung infections and otitis in sheep and cattle. Most of the cases of infection due to Rhodotorula in humans were fungemia associated with central venous catheter (CVC) use. The most common underlying diseases included solid and haematologic malignancies in patients who were receiving corticosteroids and cytotoxic drugs, the presence of CVC, and the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Unlike fungemia, some of the other localised infections caused by Rhodotorula, including meningeal, skin, ocular, peritoneal, and prosthetic joint infections, are not necessarily linked to the use of CVCs or immunosuppression.