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Epidemiology and clinical manifestations of Talaromyces (Penicillium) marneffei infection

Khuanchai Supparatpinyo, MD
Thira Sirisanthana, MD
Section Editor
Carol A Kauffman, MD
Deputy Editor
Jennifer Mitty, MD, MPH


Talaromyces marneffei (formerly Penicillium marneffei) causes a systemic fungal infection referred to as talaromycosis. Talaromycosis (previously referred to as penicilliosis) was commonly diagnosed in HIV-infected individuals from endemic areas prior to the era of potent antiretroviral therapy (ART), and was an important cause of morbidity and mortality. The widespread use of ART has led to a significant decline in T. marneffei infections among HIV-infected patients in these areas [1]. However, talaromycosis continues to be seen in patients with AIDS (eg, those who are unaware of their HIV infection, who do not have access to ART, or who have suboptimal treatment responses to ART), as well as other immunocompromised individuals.

The mycology, epidemiology, and clinical manifestations of T. marneffei will be reviewed here. The diagnosis and treatment of this infection are discussed elsewhere. (See "Diagnosis and treatment of Talaromyces (Penicillium) marneffei infection".)


T. marneffei (formerly P. marneffei) was first isolated from the bamboo rat (Rhizomys sinensis) in Vietnam in 1956 [2]. P. marneffei was renamed T. marneffei in 2015, and the disease, which had been referred to as penicilliosis, is now called talaromycosis.

The first human case was reported in an American missionary with Hodgkin disease who had been living in Southeast Asia [3]. Thereafter, rare cases of T. marneffei infection were reported, mostly from Southeast Asia and Southern China [4,5]. The first case of talaromycosis in an HIV-infected patient was reported in 1989 from Bangkok, coinciding with the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the region [6].


T. marneffei is a dimorphic fungus [7]. The organism typically takes about four to seven days to grow in culture [8]. The growth characteristics include:

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 11, 2017.
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