Human Biology 103: Parasites & Pestilence
Created May 17, 2002
Rhinosporidiosis is a disease caused by the organism Rhinosporidium seeberi, which was once thought to be a fungus but is now believed to be a rare aquatic protistan parasite of fish. First described in 1900 by Guillermo Seeber, it generally presents as swollen, pink or red polyps in the nasal cavity or the ocular conjunctivae. Other sites of infection are rare. Infection generally occurs after swimming in stagnant freshwater ponds, lakes, or rivers, but is also suspected to occur from dust or air. The disease is most often seen in individuals ages 15-40, with preferential occurrence in boys. R. seeberi progresses through several stages of development and can be easily diagnosed via traditional fungal stains. Although there is no effective antibiotic therapy, surgical excision of the polyps is often successful in treating the disease. R. seeberi has a worldwide distribution with a proclivity for warm, tropical environments. It is most prevalent in southern India, Sri Lanka, and southeast Asia, although cases have been reported in South America, Africa, and the U.S. There are no alternate synonyms for the disease.
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