Pneumocystis jirovecii

Stuart Flanagan

in Oxford Textbook of Medical Mycology

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print January 2018 | ISBN: 9780198755388
Published online December 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191816666 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks in Infectious Disease and Microbiology

Pneumocystis jirovecii

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  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health and Epidemiology


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In humans, Pneumocystis pneumonia is caused by a yeast-like fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii. Originally called P. carinii, this organism was thought to be a protozoan; however, the discovery of chitin, β‎-1,3-glucan, and ergosterol in the cell wall confirmed it as a fungus. DNA analysis demonstrated that the human disease was caused by P. jirovecii, while P. carinii was found to infect rats. P. jirovecii resides in mammalian lung tissue, usually without ill effects, but in immunocompromised hosts it becomes pathogenic and causes respiratory infection. P. jirovecii has been isolated from air and pond water samples; pond water is the potential source of infection. Almost 90% of cases of Pneumocystis pneumonia occur in HIV-positive individuals with CD4 T-cell counts below 200 cells per microlitre. The infection is diagnosed by clinical history, assessment of oxygenation levels, and direct microscopy of sputum or bronchoalveolar lavage samples. Treatment requires antibiotics and HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) for HIV infection.

Chapter.  1686 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Public Health and Epidemiology

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