CDC at Work: Mycotic Diseases Branch

CDC’s lead group for preventing illness and death from fungal diseases in the United States and throughout the world.

About us

The goal of CDC’s Mycotic Disease Branch (MDB) is to prevent illness and death from fungal diseases. We are one of the only public health groups in the world devoted to the prevention and control of fungal diseases. We work with partners to understand who gets fungal infections and why by using epidemiology and microbiology research. We also investigate outbreaks and develop interventions to prevent fungal diseases.

Fungal diseases are a public health problem because of pdf icon[PDF – 2 pages]:

Mycotic Diseases Branch Teams

Our branch has three teams. Our epidemiology and laboratory staff members work together to:

  • generate new information about the burden of fungal diseases and disease-causing fungi,
  • detect and identify fungi in clinical specimens,
  • investigate the source of fungal outbreaks,
  • conduct applied public health research, and
  • provide training in identifying disease-causing fungi.
Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Team

The Fungal Epidemiology Team works to prevent illness and disease from fungal diseases in the following ways:

  • Determining the burden of fungal infections
  • Promoting education and awareness of fungal diseases
  • Addressing gaps in knowledge about fungal disease prevention
  • Working with domestic and international partners to respond to and support fungal public health issues

We also fight fungal disease through these actions:

  • Responding to outbreaks
  • Monitoring long-term fungal disease trends
  • Developing, evaluating, and promoting cost-effective prevention guidelines and intervention strategies
  • Helping prepare healthcare facilities and laboratories in resource-limited countries to better detect fungal diseases.

CDC scientist Carol Bolden examines microscopic slides showing Exserohilum rostratum (on screen) during the multistate meningitis outbreak.

The Fungal Service Team contributes to the prevention and control of fungal infections by facilitating detection, identification, and characterization of human fungal pathogens.

The Fungal Reference Laboratory uses conventional and molecular methods to identify fungal isolates. We accept specimens from US state and international public health laboratories. Click here for specimen submission information. We are producing a curated DNA sequence database for fungal identification in conjunction with MicrobeNet. We conduct a yearly Mold Identification Training Course in collaboration with the Association of Public Health Laboratoriesexternal icon.

The Antifungal Testing Laboratory performs antifungal susceptibility testing on special populations of fungal isolates. We conduct surveillance studies to look for the presence and the proportions of fungal organisms that are resistant to antifungal drugs and to determine the mechanisms of resistance. We participate in the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute Subcommittee on Antifungal Susceptibility Testing and help evaluate various aspects of antifungal drug testing methods.

The Fungal Serology Laboratory uses antibody-based testing to detect exposure to fungal pathogens. We also conduct research into novel serologic testing methods.

CDC scientist Christina Scheel processes spinal fluid samples for molecular testing during the multistate meningitis outbreak

The Fungal Research Team contributes to the prevention and control of fungal infections by researching the molecular epidemiology of fungal infections, novel detection and diagnostic methods, and fungal molecular subtyping. This work allows us to incorporate and translate the newest research findings in the biology of human fungal pathogens to public health mycology. Some of our current work involves:

  • Development of whole genome sequence typing tools for fungal outbreak investigations
  • Investigating molecular epidemiology of fungal pathogens
  • Investigating ecology of fungal diseases
  • Development of methods for detecting fungi in the environment and clinical samples

Fungal Disease Outbreaks

Fungal disease outbreaks are rare. An outbreak occurs when two or more people get sick from contact with the same source, sometimes in the same time or place. This can happen outdoors or in a health care setting, such as a hospital.

Detecting fungal outbreaks early is important so that the people affected can get the right treatment and so that health officials can prevent others from getting sick.

Click here to learn more about fungal disease outbreaks.

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International Activities

Our branch has assisted in the onsite development, execution, analysis, and publication of numerous studies all over the globe. We work with many international partners in a wide variety of areas, particularly with the assessment and prevention of opportunistic fungal infections among persons with HIV/AIDS. For example, we are working with public health and healthcare agencies in several countries to implement programs that aim to reduce the burden of cryptococcal disease.

For more information about our international work, please visit our Global Fungal Diseases web page.

Below is a map of some of the places we’ve worked during the last 5 years:

Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, French Guyana, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Japan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, U.S., Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe

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Sharing scientific findings is an important part of the prevention and control of fungal diseases. Our branch is involved in producing numerous articles and papers which detail our research findings and investigations.

Key Publications by Year