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Environments may act as reservoirs for pathogenic fungi, a determinant of the establishment of fungal infection, or an exacerbating factor of disease. In recent years, skin disease caused by geophilic fungi has been decreasing, while case reports of zoonoses from various animals are increasing. Outbreaks of anthropophilic T. tonsurans infection pose a problem to medical mycologists. Tinea pedis is the most common exogenous dermatomycosis in Japan. Although T. rubrum is presumed to be the dominant pathogen of this disease, T. mentagrophytes is detected more frequently from various environments, so far, the reason for this discrepancy has not been fully understood. The latest knowledge about the route of dermatophyte foot infection is as follows: (1) Dermatophyte propagules disseminated from patients may contaminate not only bath-mats but also wood floors, Japanese style mattings, concrete floors, slippers, cushions, etc., and from them adhere to healthy skin. (2) The agar stamping method can easily detect dermatophytes from the skin and the environment. (3) Propagules of T. mentagrophytes can survive for more than three months under certain conditions such as in rubber boots. (4) In order to eliminate dermatophytes gathered in socks and footwear, simple procedures (washing, bathing with hot water, or wiping with a towel) are all effective. (5) Prior application of an antifungal agent promptly eradicates dermatophyte propagules adhering to the skin from the environment. The author also mentioned the possibility of asymptomatic dermatophyte colonization, and the high prevalence of dysgeucia in oral carriers of Candida albicans
The objective of this paper was to evaluate the occurrence of dermatophytes, specifically in the nails, feet and hands of university students with and without lesions. Two hundred and eighty samples were collected; 31 (11.1%) were positive by direct examination, while only 20 (7.1%) showed dermatophyte growth in culture, as well as direct positive examination. Trichophyton rubrum was the most frequently isolated (80%) dermatophyte followed by T. mentagrophytes (20%). Considering the sites analyzed, dermatophyte occurrence was: 10.4% in toenails, 5% in foot skin, 2.5% in fingernails and 0.4% in hand skin.
Analysis of the dermatophyte species isolated in the British Isles between 1980 and 2005 and review of worldwide dermatophyte trends over the last three decades. Med Mycol. 2007 Mar;45(2):131-41
Borman AM, Campbell CK, Fraser M, Johnson EM
Infections of the skin, hair and nails by dermatophyte fungi are common in developed and developing countries alike. However, the species involved and the resulting clinical entities vary both geographically and with time. We have surveyed 15,333 dermatophytes obtained from primary isolations at the Mycology Reference Laboratory, Bristol, UK from 1980 through 2005. Several striking trends in dermatophyte prevalence were apparent over this period. The relative frequencies of isolations of Microsporum canis (cat and dog ringworm), Trichophyton verrucosum (cattle ringworm), T. mentagrophytes var. mentagrophytes (rodent ringworm) and Epidermophyton floccosum (a cause of human groin and foot infections) all decreased by 90%. Conversely, the contributions of T. tonsurans and T. violaceum (two anthropophilic scalp-infecting species) to total dermatophyte isolations increased by 1000% over the same period. Finally, T. rubrum and T. mentagrophytes var. interdigitale, the two common causes of foot infection comprised 80% of all dermatophytes isolated in 1980 and 90% of isolations in 2005. Similar trends in dermatophyte prevalence were evidenced throughout the British Isles, based on the voluntary reporting of isolations from a large number of British laboratories at 5-yearly intervals over the same period. The implications of these changing patterns of dermatophyte species, and the clinical entities they produce are discussed in the context of a review of worldwide dermatophyte isolations over the last three decades, with emphasis on the causal agents of tinea capitis.