Fungi and Disease

Some Topics

Blastomycosis Images

In Mucous Threads, Sputum Samples

The following photomicrographs were taken as high power views of stained slides made from the white mucous found in my sputum samples 20 minutes to 3 hours after collection.

In my 2 slide culture, yeast cell aggregate to create tubular structures. This metamorphosis begins within 2 hours of cooling at room temperature. All the yeast cells disappear into a root like structures within 2 days.


Sputum Sample 1000 x Yeast Cells of different sizes ( white) with immune cells, mostly lymphocytes (nuclei stained with crystal violet). Lymphocytes are often seen attached to the yeast cell wall. (Image by Stephen Gislason MD 2007)

Descriptions of the yeast phase of blastomycosis vary with the technique used to visualize them. Size estimates suggests and average of 20 microns in diameter. I have observed great variation in size from small budded daughter cells (estimated 4 microns) to giant yeast cells (greater than 40 microns) - one of the larger yeast cells is visible on the middle left of this image.

Enhanced contrast image of blastomycosis yeasts (not stained) and immune cells (dark stain). Sputum. 1000 x (Image by Stephen Gislason MD 2007)

Enhanced contrast image of blastomycosis yeasts and immune cells (stained blue). Sputum. 1000 x (Image by Stephen Gislason MD 2007)

After 14 Days, A Mature Blastomycosis fungal structure with mycelia. Grown in a 2-slide culture and stored at room temperature.

Fungi Everywhere

A profusion of fungi exists in the environment. Some fungi are able to cause an invasive infection in otherwise healthy individuals. Other fungi are opportunistic fungi that become invasive when immune defenses are compromised. Diagnosis of fungal infection is difficult. There are many problems when you try to connect a test result to a disease. Fungi are so abundant and there are so many varieties in every environment that it is seldom easy to pick just one cause among many. Fungi are inhaled and ingested. Foods always contain fungal spores and actively growing molds. Attempts to culture fungi often fail; only a small number grow in the culture media commonly used. Some new methods of detecting fungal DNA may be useful but development of reliable tests is slow and expensive.

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