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Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 465717, 7 pages
Review Article

Epidemiology of Rhodotorula: An Emerging Pathogen

Section of Infectious Diseases, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul Ramiro Barcelos 2350, 90640-002 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Received 7 August 2012; Accepted 7 September 2012

Academic Editor: Mary E. Marquart

Copyright © 2012 Fernanda Wirth and Luciano Z. Goldani. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This is an updated paper focusing on the general epidemiological aspects of Rhodotorula in humans, animals, and the environment. Previously considered nonpathogenic, Rhodotorula species have emerged as opportunistic pathogens that have the ability to colonise and infect susceptible patients. Rhodotorula species are ubiquitous saprophytic yeasts that can be recovered from many environmental sources. Several authors describe the isolation of this fungus from different ecosystems, including sites with unfavourable conditions. Compared to R. mucilaginosa, R. glutinis and R. minuta are less frequently isolated from natural environments. Among the few references to the pathogenicity of Rhodotorula spp. in animals, there are several reports of an outbreak of skin infections in chickens and sea animals and lung infections and otitis in sheep and cattle. Most of the cases of infection due to Rhodotorula in humans were fungemia associated with central venous catheter (CVC) use. The most common underlying diseases included solid and haematologic malignancies in patients who were receiving corticosteroids and cytotoxic drugs, the presence of CVC, and the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Unlike fungemia, some of the other localised infections caused by Rhodotorula, including meningeal, skin, ocular, peritoneal, and prosthetic joint infections, are not necessarily linked to the use of CVCs or immunosuppression.