United States

First Reported Case Of Sexually Transmitted Rare Fungal Strain Rings Alarm In US: Trichophyton Mentagrophytes Type VII Identified

The emergence of Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII, a rare and sexually transmitted fungal strain, has sparked concern among health experts in the United States. This highly contagious fungus, first identified in a case of genital ringworm in New York City, presents challenges due to its drug resistance and potential for severe skin infections.

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Health experts are warning both medical professionals and the public about a highly contagious rare fungal strain after the first reported case of a sexually transmitted ringworm in the United States.

"Healthcare providers should be aware that Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII is the latest in a group of severe skin infections to have now reached the United States," stated Dr. Avrom Caplan, lead author of the study and a dermatologist at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, in a university news release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII is a sexually transmitted fungus.

According to a recent report published in JAMA Dermatology on Wednesday, the first case involved a man in his 30s residing in New York City. He presented with ringworm (tinea) on his genitals, buttocks, and limbs after engaging in sexual activity with men during a trip to California and subsequent trips abroad to England and Greece.

Upon returning home, as per the case study, the man developed an itchy, red rash on various areas of his body, including the groin, genitals, and buttocks. Subsequent tests confirmed that he had contracted the rare fungus.

What is Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII?

Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII is a drug-resistant fungus responsible for causing skin diseases in both animals and humans. It is transmitted through sexual contact, as noted by the CDC.

The CDC has reported cases of Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII worldwide, including instances in men who have sex with men and travelers who contracted genital ringworm after visiting Southeast Asia.

In the report, Caplan noted that the rash might resemble an eczema flare rather than the typical circular pattern associated with ringworm infections. While the infection is not life-threatening, it can result in permanent scarring, according to the dermatologist.

Caplan mentioned that he had previously identified the first two cases of a distinct ringworm infection last year. These infections, attributed to Trichophyton indotineae, are not sexually transmitted infections but are both contagious and resistant to drugs, as reported by the doctor.

Since then, Caplan's team at NYU Langone Health has identified 11 cases of Trichophyton indotineae ringworm among individuals in New York City.

Report: A Growing Public Health Concern

According to a report published in the same journal in May, the 11 cases of ringworm in New York caused by Trichophyton indotinea have been linked to travel to Asia. Medical experts have noted that these cases are resistant to standard treatments, including first-line antifungal medications.

The report highlights that this fungus poses an emerging public health threat due to its ability to cause ringworm infections that may not respond to terbinafine, a commonly prescribed oral antifungal medication.

Terbinafine, as described by the Mayo Clinic, is a prescription tablet utilized for treating fungal infections of the scalp and body, as well as nail, jock itch, and athlete's foot infections.

Symptoms of Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII (TMVII)

The symptoms of TMVII include:

  • Severe itching

  • Inflamed circular patterns on the skin

  • Hair and nail abnormalities

  • Can lead to athlete's foot