Belgian national survey on tinea capitis: epidemiological considerations
Tinea capitis (TC) is a superficial infection of the scalp caused by dermatophyte fungi which affects mainly prepubescent children. This last decade, a huge increase of African anthropophilic strains causing tinea capitis, has been observed in Europe, probably due to immigration waves from African countries. The Belgian National Reference Center for Mycosis (NRC) has conducted a surveillance study about TC in 2018.
Methods: Belgian laboratories were invited to send all dermatophytes strains isolated from the scalp from January to December 2018. Dermatologists were involved and were asked to fill a form containing several epidemiological information about the patient. Strains identification was confirmed by ITS sequencing. A multiplex pan-dermatophyte real time PCR assay (DermaGenius®, PathoNostics) was applied if necessary.
Results: A total of 337 strains have been collected from 337 patients. The main population concerned by TC was children from 5-9 years. Males were more affected than females. The majority of the strains was collected in Brussels area followed by Liege area. Other Belgian cities were less concerned by TC. Among known ethnical origins, African people were more concerned by TC than European people. The main transmission mode of TC was the familial way. The major etiological agent was Microsporum audouinii followed by T. soudanense.
Conclusion: African anthropophilic dermatophytes are mainly responsible for tinea capitis in Belgium. Large cosmopolitan cities like Brussels and Liege are the most concerned. People from African origin are mostly affected by TC.