Epidemiology of fungal diseases in Africa: A review of diagnostic drivers

Document Type : Reviews


1 Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Gulu University, Gulu, Uganda

2 Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, University Hospital Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

3 Division of Infection, Immunity and Respiratory Medicine, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK



Background and Purpose: There has been a significant increase in the burden of fungal diseases in the last few decades which has imposed a global threat to the health of humans, animals, and plants. Epidemiology of fungal diseases is not completely understood in Africa. Most of these diseases are under-reported or not reported at all mainly due to the challenges related to the availability of and access to fungal diagnostics and the lack of human resources in clinical and diagnostic mycology across the continent. Therefore, it is imperative to highlight the epidemiology of the endemic and epidemic of emerging and re-emerging fungal diseases as well as their diagnostic challenges in Africa based on the available data. Moreover, it is important to underline the existing gaps in this regard as well.
Materials and Methods: For the purposes of the study, Medline and Google Scholar were searched to retrieve articles on these prominent fungal diseases, as well as their etiologies and available diagnostics.
Results: It was found that histoplasmosis and other AIDS-associated mycoses have been reported in Africa, including blastomycosis, coccidioidomycosis, and paracoccidioidomycosis. Other reported infections were fungal neglected tropical diseases, especially sporotrichosis, dermatophytosis, mycetoma, and chromoblastomycosis as well as emerging fungal diseases, such as Emergomyces africanus, Candida auris, and Blastomyces emzantsi. In Africa, the major drivers of fungal diseases include human immunodeficiency infection, tuberculosis, and poverty.
Conclusion: Serious fungal diseases are common in Africa; however, the true burden remains unknown.