Funguses (also called fungi) are parasitic, spore-producing organisms. They obtain their nourishment by absorbing food from the hosts on which they grow. Many species of fungus exist in the environment, but only a very few cause infections. The primary source of most infections is soil. Fungal infections can be acquired by inhalation, ingestion, or through the skin (for example, through a cut or wound).
Some fungal infections can cause disease in otherwise healthy animals, while others require a host that is incapacitated or immunocompromised (by, for example, such stresses as captivity, poor nutrition, viral infections, cancer, or drugs like steroids) to establish infection. Prolonged use of antimicrobial drugs or immunosuppressive agents appears to increase the likelihood of some fungal infections. The infection itself may be localized or may affect the entire body (systemic or generalized).
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