Mycotic Diseases Branch
CDC’s lead group for preventing illness and death from fungal diseases in the United States and throughout the world.
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.
- Increasing number of people with weakened immune systems. Opportunistic infections such as cryptococcosis and aspergillosis affect cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, and people with HIV/AIDS.
- Advancements and changes in healthcare practices. Hospital-associated infections such as candidemia are a major concern in the United States. Advancements and changes in healthcare practices can allow new and drug-resistant fungi to emerge in healthcare settings.
- Changes in the environment. Fungi that live in soil or other parts of the natural environment cause diseases such as coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever) and histoplasmosis. Weather and climate changes may be affecting these types of fungi.
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.
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.
The Fungal Service Team contributes to the prevention and control of fungal infections by detecting, identifying, and characterizing 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.
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.
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
When fungal disease outbreaks occur, our branch works with federal, state, local and territorial, and international public health officials and other partners. We aim to determine the cause, reduce illness and deaths, and learn how to prevent future outbreaks. With systems in place to identify these types of events quickly, our branch and its partners can continue to track, test for, respond to, and better understand emerging fungal health threats.
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: