What is Mycetoma?
Mycetoma (also known as Madura foot / maduromycosis / maduramycosis) is a slow-growing bacterial or fungal infection. It has two different forms:
- Actinomycetoma – a bacterial infection with a >90% cure rate using antibiotics
- Eumycetoma – a fungal infection with a 35% cure rate with antifungals and surgery
Approximately 40% of mycetoma cases worldwide are eumycotic
80% of known patients develop deformities that need to be amputated
The overall global burden is unknown
The absence of surveillance systems and remoteness of affected populations means that basic epidemiological information is lacking. Mycetoma can be devastating, developing into a chronic infection of the skin tissues and, if left untreated, eventually resulting in amputation. Children and young adults are particularly at risk. Disfigurement and disability can lead to stigma and social discrimination.
Mycetoma is endemic in tropical and subtropical regions, in particular across a swathe of Central Africa (including Chad, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Sudan, Senegal and Somalia), as well as in Mexico, India and Yemen. The ‘mycetoma belt’ is characterized by a hot, dry climate with a short, heavy rainy season.
There are currently no comprehensive studies available in order to have a definitive theory about the route of transmission. The infection may come from the soil or animal dung, and it is thought that it enters the body after the skin has been pricked (e.g. by a thorn).
Most commonly feet become very swollen and disfigured. This slow-growing disease causes little pain and consequently people delay seeking treatment until the disease has reached the later stages, when amputation is often necessary. Reversal of the symptoms is rare, and if untreated, it will gradually deteriorate into a serious chronic condition, which can be fatal.
Patient treatment needs
Actinomycetoma (bacterial form) has a 90% cure rate while the eumycetoma (fungal form) cure rate is only 25-35%. The current treatment for eumycetoma consists of antifungals, most often followed by removal of the remaining mass, again followed by antifungals as recurrence is very common. Often amputation is needed in the absence of other treatment options. The current treatment is neither safe, nor effective, nor affordable. The median treatment duration is 12 months, and the treatment costs more than many local people can afford. An effective, safe, affordable and shorter-term curative treatment, which is appropriate for rural settings is desperately needed. Read our multimedia story about patients living with mycetoma
There is little research on this very neglected disease, but PLOS has released a collection on Mycetoma.
DNDi aims to:
- Develop an effective, safe, affordable, and simpler curative treatment.
Mycetoma: New hope for neglected patients?
Visual patient story
A simple thorn prick