University of Limerick
OConnell_2022_Epidemiology.pdf (1.32 MB)

Epidemiology of dermatomycoses and onychomycoses in Ireland (2001–2020): A single-institution review

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-22, 11:43 authored by James Powell, Emma Porter, Sinead Field, Nuala H. O’Connell, Kieran Carty, COLUM DUNNECOLUM DUNNE

Background: Fungal skin infections are recognised as one of the most common health disorders globally, and dermatophyte infections of the skin, hair and nails are the most common fungal infections. Dermatophytes can be classified as anthropophilic, zoo-philic or geophilic species based on their primary habitat association, and this classification makes epidemiological analysis useful for the prevention and control of these infections. The Irish contribution to the epidemiology of these infections has been scant, with just two papers (both reporting paediatric tinea capitis only) published in the last 20 years, and none in the last seven.

Objectives: To perform a comprehensive retrospective epidemiological analysis of all dermatological mycology tests performed in University Hospital Limerick over a 20-year period.

Methods: All mycology laboratory test results were extracted from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS, iLab, DXC Technologies) from 2001 to 2020 inclusive for analysis. Specimen types were categorised according to the site of sampling. The data were analysed using Microsoft Excel.

Results: About 12,951 specimens of skin, hair and nails were studied. Median patient age was 42 years (IQR 26–57) with a slight female preponderance (57.2%). Two thirds of samples (67%, n = 8633) were nail, 32% were skin scrapings (n = 4118) and 200 hair samples (1.5%) were received. Zoophilic dermatophytes were more commonly present in females (38% F, 23% M, proportion of dermatophytes) and in those under 10 years of age or from 45 to 70 years (36% and 34% zoophiles, respectively, proportion of dermatophytes), although anthropophiles predominated every age and gender category. Anthropophiles had their highest prevalence in the 10–20 years age category (80% anthropophiles, proportion of dermatophytes), and yeast infections were more prevalent in older patients (29% of >60 year olds vs. 17% of <60 year olds, proportion of all fungal positives). Trichophyton rubrum was the most prevalent pathogen detected, accounting for 53% of all dermatophytes detected, 61% of those detected from nail samples and 34% from skin and hair samples. Trichophyton tonsurans was the most prevalent dermatophyte in tinea capitis, accounting for 37% of dermatophytes etected. Both of these organisms are anthropophilic, and this group showed consistently increased prevalence in proportion to all fungal isolates. The proportion of this dermatophyte class (anthropophiles) increased among both nail samples and skin/hair samples during the study period, from 55% of samples in the first 5 years of the study (2001–2005) to 88% (proportion of dermatophytes) in the final 5 years. Conversely, yeast detection decreased.

Conclusions: This study provides a detailed overview of the epidemiology of the fungal cultures of skin, nail and hair samples in the Mid-West of Ireland over a 20-year period. Monitoring this changing landscape is important in identifying likely sources of infections, to identifying potential outbreaks, and may help guide empiric treatment. To the best of our knowledge, this study provides the first detailed analysis from Ireland of fungal detections from skin, hair and nail samples, and is the first epidemiological fungal report of any kind in over 7 years.



Mycoses, 65, 770- 779


Wiley and Sons Ltd

Other Funding information

This study was performed as part of a PhD program for the lead author (JP). Funding for the PhD was provided by University Hospital Limerick and the Corresponding Author at the University of Limerick

Also affiliated with

  • 4i - Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation & Immunity

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  • School of Medicine

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