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MEDICAL SCIENCE - CASE REPORT
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 67-69  

An unusual cause of fungal pneumonia


Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Sree Balaji Medical College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission31-Oct-2014
Date of Decision31-Oct-2014
Date of Acceptance09-Nov-2014
Date of Web Publication30-Apr-2015

Correspondence Address:
Dr. S Dharmic
Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Sree Balaji Medical College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0975-7406.155808

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   Abstract 

A 65 year old female, known asthmatic on steroids intermittently, with no other co-morbidity presented with fever, breathlessness and cough with mucoid expectoration of ten days duration with bilateral crepts, went for Type II respiratory failure and was intubated followed by tracheostomy in view of prolonged ventilator support. In spite of high end antibiotics as per sputum culture sensitivity, weaning off the ventilator was not possible. Blood investigations revealed leucocytosis with neutrophilic predominance and I g E levels were within normal limits. CT chest showed multiple patchy consolidations of the right upper, middle and lower lobes with ground glass appearance and enlarged mediastinal lymph nodes. Work up for retrovirus, tuberculosis and Sputum for KOH mount was negative. No evidence of sputum and blood eosinophilia. BAL sample grew Curvularia species. Fluconazole 150mg OD was added. Serial imaging of the chest showed resolution of the consolidation and was weaned off the ventilator and was comfortable on room air. Pneumonia caused by Curvularia, in an immune competent patient is very rare. Even in broncho pulmonary involvement these fungi usually occur in allergic conditions as in ABPA than appearing as a solitary cause for lung infection. But if diagnosed and treated early, will respond well to triazoles. This case report highlights a unilateral fungal pneumonia with dramatic clinical improvement post treatment once the rare causative organism was identified.

Keywords: BAL, Curvularia sp., flucanazole, fungal pneumonia


How to cite this article:
Dharmic S, Nair S, Harish M. An unusual cause of fungal pneumonia. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2015;7, Suppl S1:67-9

How to cite this URL:
Dharmic S, Nair S, Harish M. An unusual cause of fungal pneumonia. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Nov 26];7, Suppl S1:67-9. Available from: https://www.jpbsonline.org/text.asp?2015/7/5/67/155808

Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in developed countries. [1],[2] Among the vast diversity of respiratory pathogens, fungi account for only a small portion of community-acquired and nosocomial pneumonias. However, fungal respiratory infections generate concern in the expanding population of immunosuppressed patients. [1]

Although the common fungal species seen in immuno-compromised patients are Aspergillus spp., Candida spp. and Chrysosporium spp., there has been the emergence of systemic fungal infection caused by fungi with low inherent virulence, such as dematiaceous fungi. [3] Curvularia is a fungus that belongs to a dematiaceous saprophyte commonly found in the soil and plant materials. It rarely causes serious illness in humans. Infection with Curvularia spp. includes mycotic keratitis, black piedra and deep tissue infection. [4] Curvularia deep tissue infection is being recognized more frequently with case reports of invasive sinusitis with extension into the central nervous system, pneumonia, deep sternal wound infections and endocarditis. [4],[5] Clinical manifestations include pneumonia, asymptomatic solitary pulmonary nodules, and endobronchial lesions that may cause hemoptysis.


   Case Report Top


The 65-year-old female, known asthmatic on steroids intermittently, with no other co-morbidity presented with fever, breathlessness and cough with a mucoid expectoration of 10 days duration. Bilateral crepts were heard in auscultation. She was maintaining saturating well in room air. Blood investigations revealed leukocytosis with neutrophilic predominance. Absolute eosinophil count and blood IgE levels were within the normal limits. Computed tomography chest showed multiple patchy consolidations of the right upper, middle and lower lobes with ground glass appearance and enlarged mediastinal lymph nodes with predominantly involving the Right lower lobe [Figure 1]a-c.
Figure 1: CT-images showing multiple patchy consolidations in Right upper, middle and lower lobes with ground glass opacities in lower lobe

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Work up for retrovirus and tuberculosis was negative. Sputum for KOH mount was negative initially and no evidence of sputum eosinophilia. Sputum gram stain showed Gram-negative bacterial growth, and she was started on antibiotics. Meanwhile, patient went for Type II respiratory failure and was intubated followed by tracheostomy in view of prolonged ventilator support.

In spite of high-end antibiotics as per sputum culture sensitivity, weaning off the ventilator was not possible. Bronchoscopy showed pus along with flakes in the right lateral basal bronchus. Bronchial wash sample grew Curvularia species [Figure 2]a and b.
Figure 2: (a) Black coloured colonies of Curvularia grown in slide culture. (b) Microscopic observation of slide culture: Conidia seen (5'o clock position in left upper quadrant)

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Conidia are pale brown, with three or more transverse septa (phragmoconidia) and are formed apically through a pore (poroconidia) in a sympodially elongating geniculate conidiophores. Conidia are cylindrical or slightly curved, with one of the central cells being larger and darker [Figure 3]a and b.
Figure 3: (a) Tube culture (b) Tube culture showing brownish to blackish brown with black reverse fungal colonies

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Colonies are fast growing, suede-like to downy, brown to blackish brown with a black reverse.

Curvularia is a dematophyte, ubiquitous in nature and not uncommonly isolated from clinical specimens and air samples in this part of the world. Most isolates have no significance, and it is only when mycelium is seen in the microscopy of clinical material and the same fungus isolated repeatedly, that any significance is given to their isolation. These fungi are readily inhaled from the atmosphere, and this was the most likely source of the infection in our patients.

Treatment

Fluconazole 150 mg OD was added. Serial imaging of the chest showed resolution of the consolidation. She was weaned off the ventilator and was comfortable on room air. Radiological clearance was observed even within 3 weeks of treatment [Figure 4]a and b.
Figure 4: (a) Chest X-ray (CXR) at the time of starting anti-fungals. (b) CXR after 3 weeks of anti-fungals (oral fluconazole - 150 mg/day)

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   Discussion Top


The genus Curvularia (filamentous fungi) contains some 35 species that are mostly subtropical and tropical plant parasites. Three ubiquitous species have been recovered from human infections, principally from cases of mycotic keratitis; Curvularia lunata, Callicebus pallescens and C. geniculata. C. lunata is the most commonly encountered species. Importantly, the infections may develop in patients with intact immune system. [6] Clinical manifestations of phaeohyphomycosis include sinusitis, endocarditis, peritonitis and disseminated infection which are more common than pulmonary infections. Even in broncho pulmonary involvement these fungi usually occur in allergic conditions as in Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) than appearing as a solitary cause for lung infection. [7] Hence, this case was reported as the patient admitted had normal allergic markers and no evidence of ABPA.

Pneumonia caused by Curvularia in an immune competent patient is very rare and it is unclear what specific risk factors may contribute to pulmonary infection with these fungi, which are commonly found in the environment. Howeve if diagnosed and treated early, will respond well to first-line drugs like triazoles (fluconazole, varicanazole, itraconazole, posaconazole) and amphotericin B. [8] This case report highlights a unilateral fungal pneumonia with dramatic clinical improvement posttreatment once the rare causative organism was identified.

 
   References Top

1.
Lamoth F, Alexander BD. Nonmolecular methods for the diagnosis of respiratory fungal infections. Clin Lab Med 2014;34:315-36.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Restrepo MI, Faverio P, Anzueto A. Long-term prognosis in community-acquired pneumonia. Curr Opin Infect Dis 2013;26:151-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Fleming RV, Walsh TJ, Anaissie EJ. Emerging and less common fungal pathogens. Infect Dis Clin North Am 2002;16:915-33, vi.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Bryan CS, Smith CW, Berg DE, Karp RB. Curvularia lunata endocarditis treated with terbinafine: Case report. Clin Infect Dis 1993;16:30-2.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Yau YC, de Nanassy J, Summerbell RC, Matlow AG, Richardson SE. Fungal sternal wound infection due to Curvularia lunata in a neonate with congenital heart disease: Case report and review. Clin Infect Dis 1994;19:735-40.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Borges MC Jr, Warren S, White W, Pellettiere EV. Pulmonary phaeohyphomycosis due to Xylohypha bantiana. Arch Pathol Lab Med 1991;115:627-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Greenberger PA. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2002;110:685-92.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Barenfanger J, Ramirez F, Tewari RP, Eagleton L. Pulmonary phaeohyphomycosis in a patient with hemoptysis. Chest 1989;95:1158-60.  Back to cited text no. 8
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]



 

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