, Volume 131, Issue 1, pp 1-8

Occurrence ofPenicillium marneffei infections among wild bamboo rats in Thailand

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Abstract

Penicilliosis marneffei has emerged as an endemic systemic mycosis in Southeast Asia among humans and wild bamboo rats. To gain an insight into the epidemiology of this life-threatening disease, a survey of bamboo rats for natural infections byPenicillium marneffei was carried out in the central plains of Thailand during June-September, 1987. Thirty-one lesser bamboo rats (Cannomys badius) and eight hoary bamboo rats (Rhizomys pruinosus) were trapped. Portions of their internal organs were cultured to determine if they had been infected byP. marneffei. Six each ofC. badius (19.4%) andR. pruinosus (75%) yielded cultures of this unique, dimorphicPenicillium species. All of the isolates were readily converted to their unicellular form that multiplies by the process of schizogony by incubating them at 37 °C on plates of brain heart infusion agar. Their identity was further confirmed by a specific immunological test. Among the internal organs of the positive rats, the lungs had the highest positivity (83.3%), next in decreased order of frequency were the liver (33.3%) and the pancreas (33.3%). The use and value of domestic and wild animals in locating and demarcating endemic areas of geophilic fungal pathogens are discussed. Penicilliosis marneffei is considered to be a zooanthroponosis — a disease that occurs in lower animals, as well as, humans.