Human Pythiosis: Emergence of Fungal-Like Organism

Nitipong Permpalung, Navaporn Worasilchai, Ariya Chindamporn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Pythiosis is an emerging infectious disease caused by the aquatic oomycete Pythium insidiosum, a fungal-like organism. It is believed that P. insidiosum’s zoospores, its infected form, play major role in pathogenesis. Vascular and ocular infections are the most common clinical manifestation in humans. It is difficult to establish the diagnosis given its relatively rarity and difficulty to distinguish P. insidiosum from other molds. Delay in diagnosis and treatment has been associated with poor outcomes. High index of suspicion is the key, particularly in thalassemia patients with arterial insufficiency and patients with fungal keratitis/endophthalmitis without improvement on antifungal therapy. Tissue culture and zoospore induction remain gold standard for diagnosis; however, DNA-based method should be performed simultaneously. The combination of radical surgery, antifungal agents, and immunotherapy has been recommended. It was previously believed that surgery with negative surgical margins was the essential to survive in vascular pythiosis; however, it was recently found that patients could have residual disease despite documented negative surgical margins as infected clot may be dislodged to proximal arterial sites prior to surgery. Serum β-d-glucan (BG) has been used to monitor disease response after treatment initiation in vascular pythiosis. A significant decrease in BG levels within 2 weeks after surgery is indicative of the absence of residual infection. Unfortunately, monitoring tools for ocular pythiosis are not yet available. Itraconazole plus terbinafine have generally been used in P. insidiosum-infected patients; however, antibacterial agents, including azithromycin and linezolid, have also been used with favorable outcomes in ocular disease. Recently, azithromycin or clarithromycin plus doxycyclin were used in two relapsed vascular pythiosis patients with good outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-812
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Human pythiosis
  • In vitro susceptibility
  • Keratitis
  • Ocular pythiosis
  • P. insidiosum
  • Vascular pythiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)


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