Fatal cerebral mycoses caused by the ascomycete Chaetomium strumarium

J Clin Microbiol. 1995 Oct;33(10):2692-8. doi: 10.1128/jcm.33.10.2692-2698.1995.


Three cases of fatal cerebral mycosis in males with prior histories of intravenous drug use from the United States and Australia are reported. Infection in each case was limited to brain abscess; no other sites of infection were observed. The fungus seen by histopathology and isolated from the brain tissue in each case was identified as Chaetomium strumarium. This is the first report of human infection by this species, and C. strumarium is the second species of Chaetomium known to cause primary brain infection. Chaetomium strumarium is unusual among members of the genus Chaetomium in forming ascocarps covered with pale, thin-walled, flexuous hairs, a feature leading to its original placement in the genus Achaetomium. Presence of pinkish exudate droplets and/or crystals associated with hyphae or ascocarps, sometimes accompanied by a pinkish diffusible pigment; good growth at 42 degrees C; and production of small conidia further distinguish this species. The brain abscess isolates were compared with isolates from prior cases of cerebral infection which had been identified as either Chaetomium atrobrunneum or Chaetomium globosum. With reidentification of one isolate originally identified as C. globosum to C. atrobrunneum, only C. strumarium and C. atrobrunneum have been confirmed to cause infection involving the brain.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Brain / microbiology*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Abscess / complications
  • Brain Abscess / epidemiology
  • Brain Abscess / microbiology*
  • Brain Abscess / mortality
  • Chaetomium / classification
  • Chaetomium / cytology
  • Chaetomium / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mycoses / complications
  • Mycoses / epidemiology
  • Mycoses / microbiology*
  • Mycoses / mortality
  • Spores, Fungal
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications
  • United States / epidemiology