What is aspergillus?
Aspergillus is a fungus (mould) disorder or an infection that is mostly seen in abundance throughout the environment in soil, decomposing plant material, ornamental plants, water, household dust, and building materials.
There are more than 100 different species of aspergillus that have been determined, but the species which are most commonly implicated in human disease are A fumigatus, A flavus, and A niger.
How does aspergillosis occur?
Most people tend to breathe in aspergillus spores each day, with no ill-effect. Although in patients who are having pre-existing medical conditions then aspergillus can cause disease, basically lung infection. Infection is more likely to cause if a large number of spores are inhaled, like come in contact to a very dusty environment or building renovation.
However, aspergillus most commonly enters the human body by inhalation, on rare occasions the fungus may goes into the skin (primary cutaneous aspergillosis), specifically in patients who are having thermal burns or trauma. Sometimes outbreaks of primary cutaneous aspergillosis can occur due to contaminated biomedical equipment.
How is aspergillosis diagnosed?
- Samples of sputum, blood, or affected tissue can be cultured in the laboratory to grow aspergillus.
- The fungus can be seen under a microscope in biopsies of affected tissue. Certain stains for fungus can be needed, but other fungi may appear nearly identical.
- CT scan of the lungs or Chest x-ray can show characteristic abnormalities.
- A newer antigen-based test is available to detect evidence of invasive aspergillosis in the blood. However, accuracy of this test appears to be variable.
Can aspergillosis be prevented?
As aspergillosis can be found everywhere throughout the environment, it is quite impossible to prevent it altogether. In patients who are having severely impaired immunity, the following measures can be helpful:
- Try to avoid dusty environments, construction sites, gardening, and lawn mowing.
- Always try to cover your face with protective masks when you are near to dusty environments.
- Preventative antifungal medication may be useful.
- Hospitals should use high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) to avoid hospital-acquired lung infections in patients with poor immunity.
How is aspergillosis treated?
- Currently voriconazole is used as first-line treatment for invasive aspergillosis.
- Other alternatives involve itraconazole, amphotericin B, caspofungin, micafungin, and posaconazole.
- Prolonged treatment is usually required.
- When possible, immunosuppressive therapy, such as corticosteroids, should be discontinued.
- Surgical removal of the infected lung cavity may be required for aspergillomas.