People at Risk & Prevention
Who gets mucormycosis?
Mucormycosis is rare, but it’s more common among people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness. Certain groups of people are more likely to get mucormycosis,1–3 including people with:
- Diabetes, especially with diabetic ketoacidosis
- Organ transplant
- Stem cell transplant
- Neutropenia pdf icon[PDF – 2 pages] (low number of white blood cells)
- Long-term corticosteroid use
- Injection drug use
- Too much iron in the body (iron overload or hemochromatosis)
- Skin injury due to surgery, burns, or wounds
- Prematurity and low birthweight (for neonatal gastrointestinal mucormycosis)
How does someone get mucormycosis?
People get mucormycosis through contact with fungal spores in the environment. For example, the lung or sinus forms of the infection can occur after someone inhales the spores from the air. A skin infection can occur after the fungus enters the skin through a scrape, burn, or other type of skin injury.
Is mucormycosis contagious?
No. Mucormycosis can’t spread between people or between people and animals.
How can I lower the risk of mucormycosis?
It’s difficult to avoid breathing in fungal spores because the fungi that cause mucormycosis are common in the environment. There is no vaccine to prevent mucormycosis. For people who have weakened immune systems, there may be some ways to lower the chances of developing mucormycosis.
- Protect yourself from the environment.4,5 It’s important to note that although these actions are recommended, they haven’t been proven to prevent mucormycosis.
- Try to avoid areas with a lot of dust like construction or excavation sites. If you can’t avoid these areas, wear an N95 respirator (a type of face mask) while you’re there. Click here for more information about respirators.
- Avoid direct contact with water-damaged buildings and flood water after hurricanes and natural disasters.6
- Avoid activities that involve close contact to soil or dust, such as yard work or gardening. If this isn’t possible,
- Wear shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when doing outdoor activities such as gardening, yard work, or visiting wooded areas.
- Wear gloves when handling materials such as soil, moss, or manure.
- To reduce the chances of developing a skin infection, clean skin injuries well with soap and water, especially if they have been exposed to soil or dust.
- Antifungal medication. If you are at high risk for developing mucormycosis (for example, if you’ve had an organ transplant or a stem cell transplant), your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to prevent mucormycosis and other mold infections.7,8 Doctors and scientists are still learning about which transplant patients are at highest risk and how to best prevent fungal infections.
If you are a healthcare provider or healthcare infection control practitioner, click here for prevention guidelines and other resources.
- Roden MM, Zaoutis TE, Buchanan WL, Knudsen TA, Sarkisova TA, Schaufele RL, et al. Epidemiology and outcome of zygomycosis: a review of 929 reported cases. Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Sep 1;41(5):634-53.
- Petrikkos G, Skiada A, Lortholary O, Roilides E, Walsh TJ, Kontoyiannis DP. Epidemiology and clinical manifestations of mucormycosis. Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Feb;54 Suppl 1:S23-34.
- Walsh TJ, Gamaletsou MN, McGinnis MR, Hayden RT, Kontoyiannis DP. Early clinical and laboratory diagnosis of invasive pulmonary, extrapulmonary, and disseminated mucormycosis (zygomycosis). Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Feb;54 Suppl 1:S55-60.
- Avery RK, Michaels MG. Strategies for safe living after solid organ transplantation. Am J Transplant. 2013 Mar;13 Suppl 4:304-10.
- CDC. Guidelines for preventing opportunistic infections among hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. MMWR. 2000 Oct;49(RR-10):1-125, CE1-7.
- Davies BW, Smith JM, Hink EM, Durairaj VD. Increased Incidence of Rhino-Orbital-Cerebral Mucormycosis After Colorado Flooding. Ophthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017 May;33(3S Suppl 1):S148-S151.
- Brizendine KD, Vishin S, Baddley JW. Antifungal prophylaxis in solid organ transplant recipients. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2011 May;9(5):571-81.
- Rogers TR, Slavin MA, Donnelly JP. Antifungal prophylaxis during treatment for haematological malignancies: are we there yet? Br J Haemato. 2011 Jun;153(6):681-97.