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Human protothecosis.

Human protothecosis is a rare infection caused by members of the genus Prototheca. Prototheca species are generally considered to be achlorophyllic algae and are ubiquitous in nature. The occurrence of protothecosis can be local or disseminated and acute or chronic, with the latter being more common. Diseases have been classified as (i) cutaneous lesions, (ii) olecranon bursitis, or (iii) disseminated or systemic manifestations. Infections can occur in both immunocompetent and immunosuppressed patients, although more severe and disseminated infections tend to occur in immunocompromised individuals. Prototheca wickerhamii and Prototheca zopfii have been associated with human disease. Usually, treatment involves medical and surgical approaches; treatment failure is not uncommon. Antifungals such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole, and amphotericin B are the most commonly used drugs to date. Among them, amphotericin B displays the best activity against Prototheca spp. Diagnosis is largely made upon detection of characteristic structures observed on histopathologic examination of tissue.

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