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University of Manchester publishes final module of Manchester’s Fungal Microscopy course

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The module aims to equip learners with advanced skills in microscopy and identification of rare types of disease-causing fungi

Experts at the University of Manchester have published the fourth and final module of Manchester’s Fungal Microscopy course – ‘Microfungi.net’ (www.microfungi.net). This course is the only comprehensive and university-accredited course on fungal microscopy available online and is now offered free of cost.

The fourth and final module aims to equip learners with advanced skills in microscopy and identification of rare types of disease-causing fungi. It builds on content from three previous modules, helping doctors and scientists across the world identify fungi using little more than a microscope.

In this module, agents of chromoblastomycoses and mycetoma, well-recognised neglected tropical fungal diseases affecting ~100,000 persons worldwide have been added. In addition, agents of endemic mycoses including, Talaromyces (formerly Penicillium) marneffei, Paracoccidioides spp., Coccidioides spp., Blastomyces dermatitides, Sporothrix spp., and the globally distributed Histoplasma spp. have been covered.

This module also includes histological features of emerging opportunistic fungal pathogen, Emergomyces africanus and related species, responsible for causing outbreaks in HIV patients in South Africa and was previously thought to belong to the genus Emmonsia. The clinical presentation of emergomycosis and disseminated histoplasmosis in advanced HIV patients are indistinguishable, hence the need for a thorough histological/microscopic work-up. Furthermore, agents of sub-cutaneous zygomycosis Basidiobolus ranarum and Conidiobolus coronatus have also been added. These rare, chronic, granulomatous disease-causing fungal pathogens have distinctive microscopic features and do not form zygospores as compared to other agents of mucormycosis.

Important non-fungal organisms, notably Pythium insidiosum – an oomycete capable of causing cutaneous, vascular, ocular, gastrointestinal and systemic pythiosis following traumatic inoculation, Rhinosporidium seeberi – an aquatic microorganism that infects the mucosal surfaces (mainly the nose and eyes) of humans and animals, and agents of actinomycoses which are potent differential diagnoses of many fungal infections have also been covered in this module.

This course continues to attract students from developing countries, where the need for rapid diagnostic skills is greatest. The first three modules are also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Dr David Denning, Professor of Infectious Disease in Global Health at The University of Manchester – and one of the course designers stated: “Neglected tropical fungal diseases affect hundreds of thousands worldwide and very different treatments are required for each. Microscopy is critical to early identification and reducing deaths, pain and disfigurement from these unusual infections.”

Module 4 was designed by Dr Jenny Bartholomew, Dr Charlotte Sriruttan, Dr Felix Bongomin and Dr Rachel Orritt and Professor David Denning with contributions from mycology experts globally.

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