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Types of Fungal Diseases

Fungi are everywhere. There are approximately 1.5 million different species of fungi on Earth, but only about 300 of those are known to make people sick.1,2 Fungal diseases are often caused by fungi that are common in the environment. Fungi live outdoors in soil and on plants and trees as well as on many indoor surfaces and on human skin. Most fungi are not dangerous, but some types can be harmful to health.


Microscopy of Aspergillus Fumigatus Aspergillosis - Caused by the fungus Aspergillus and usually occurs in people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems.


Histopathology showing a yeast cell of Blastomyces dermatitidisBlastomycosis - Caused by the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis, which lives in moist soil and rotting wood and leaves in parts of the U.S. and Canada.


Photomicrograph of the fungus Candida albicansCandidiasis - Caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. The most common species is Candida albicans.

Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)

Arthroconidia of Coccidioides immitisCoccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)Caused by Coccidioides, a fungus found in the soil of dry, low rainfall areas. It is common in the southwestern U.S., Mexico, and Central and South America.

C. neoformans cryptococcosis

A photomicrograph of Cryptococcus neoformans using a light India ink staining preparation.C. neoformans cryptococcosisCaused by Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus that lives in soil throughout the world. Cryptococcal meningitis is serious problem in resource-limited countries with a high burden of HIV/AIDS.

C. gattii cryptococcosis

A photomicrograph of CryptococcusC. gattii cryptococcosis - Caused by Cryptococcus gattii, a fungus that lives in soil in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and British Columbia.

Dermatophytes (fungal skin and nail infections)

Photomicrograph of the dermatophyte Trichophyton mentagrophytesDermatophytes (fungal skin and nail infections) – These are fungi that cause common skin, hair, and nail infections. Skin infections caused by these fungi are also known as "ringworm" or "tinea."

Fungal Keratitis

Photomicrograph showing conidiophores and conidia of the fungus Fusarium verticillioidesFungal Keratitis – An inflammation of the cornea (the clear, front part of the eye) caused by fungus. Different types of fungi can cause this condition.


A photomicrograph of Histoplasma capsulatum isolated from a soil sample.Histoplasmosis - Caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, which lives in the environment, often in association with large amounts of bird or bat droppings, in parts of North and South America.


Microscopy of Apophysomyces, one of the causative agents of mucormycosis.Mucormycosis – A rare infection caused by different fungi that belong to a group of fungi called Mucoromycotina. These fungi typically live in soil and in association with decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, or rotten wood.

Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)

Histopathology showing Pneumocystis cysts in the lung of a patient with AIDSPneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) – An illness caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii. PCP is one of the most frequent and severe opportunistic infections in people with weakened immune systems, particularly people with HIV/AIDS.


A photomicrograph showing the conidiophores and conidia of the fungus Sporothrix schenckii.Sporotrichosis - Caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii. The fungus lives throughout the world in soil, plants, and decaying vegetation.

Other pathogenic fungi

Photomicrograph of Exserohilum rostratumExserohilum - A mold that lives in soil and on plants, especially grasses, and it thrives in warm and humid climates. Exserohilum is a very rare cause of infection in people.

Photomicrograph of CladosporiumCladosporium - A mold that is common in the environment. Outdoors, it can be found on plants and other organic matter. Indoors, Cladosporium is common in the air and on surfaces such as wallpaper or carpet, particularly where moisture is present.


  1. Garcia-Solache MA, Casadevall A. Global warming will bring new fungal diseases for mammals. mBio 2010;1.
  2. Hawksworth DL. The magnitude of fungal diversity: the 1.5 million species estimate revisited. Mycol Res 2001;105:1422-32.
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