Open Access Research article

Molecular characterization of Histoplasma capsulatum isolated from an outbreak in treasure hunters

Bertha Muñoz1, María Á Martínez2, Gabriel Palma1, Amado Ramírez1, María G Frías3, María R Reyes3, María L Taylor4, Anjarath L Higuera5, Alexander Corcho5 and María E Manjarrez1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratorio de Micología Médica, Depto. de Investigación en Virología, Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Respiratorias (INER), Calzada de Tlalpan 4502, Sección XVI, Tlalpan,14080 México, D.F., México

2 Laboratorio de Micología Médica, Depto. de Microbiología, Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas (ENCB), Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), México, D.F., México

3 Laboratorio de Biología Molecular de Hongos, Depto. de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico

4 Laboratorio de Inmunología de Hongos, Depto. de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultad de Medicina, (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico

5 Departamento de Investigación en Epidemiología Clínica, Nacional de Enfermedades Respiratorias (INER), Calzada de Tlalpan 4502, Sección XVI, Tlalpan,14080 México, D.F., México

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:264  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-264

Published: 8 September 2010

Abstract

Background

In Mexico, primary pulmonary histoplasmosis is the most relevant clinical form of the disease. The geographical distribution of specific strains of Histoplasma capsulatum circulating in Mexico has not been fully established. Outbreaks must be reported in order to have current, updated information on this disease, identifying new endemic areas, manner of exposure to the fungi, and molecular characterization of the causative agents. We report a recent outbreak of histoplasmosis in treasure hunters and the molecular characterization of two isolates obtained from these patients.

Methods

Six patients admitted to the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) in Mexico City presented severe respiratory symptoms suggestive of histoplasmosis. They acquired the infection in the Veracruz (VZ) endemic zone. Diagnosis was made by X-ray and Computed tomography (CT), liver function, immunological techniques, and culture. Identification of H. capsulatum isolates was confirmed by using Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was conducted with a probe from the M antigen, and the isolates were characterized by means of Random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD)-PCR employed the 1253 oligonucleotide and a mixture of oligonucleotides 1281 and 1283. These were compared to eight reference strain isolates from neighboring areas.

Results

X-ray and CT revealed disseminated micronodular images throughout lung parenchyma, as well as bilateral retrocaval, prevascular, subcarinal, and hilar adenopathies, hepatosplenomegaly, and altered liver function tests. Five of the six patients developed disseminated histoplasmosis. Two H. capsulatum strains were isolated. The same band profile was detected in both strains, indicating that both isolates corresponded to the sole H. capsulatum strain. Molecular characterization of the isolates was similar in 100% with the EH-53 Hidalgo human (HG) strain (reference strain integrated into the LAm A clade described for Latin America).

Conclusions

The two isolates appeared to possess the same polymorphic pattern; they are indistinguishable from each other and from EH-53. It is important to remain updated on recent outbreaks of histoplasmosis, the manner of exposure to the fungi, as well as the molecular characterization of the isolates. The severity of cases indicates that this strain is highly virulent and that it is probably prevalent in Hidalgo and Veracruz states.