Aspergillosis is an infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mold that lives indoors and outdoors. (Representative Image/HT)
Aspergillosis is an infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mold that lives indoors and outdoors. (Representative Image/HT)

Aspergillosis: Types, symptoms, treatment explained

Aspergillosis is not contagious and can’t spread between people or between people and animals from the lungs.
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 29, 2021 03:59 PM IST

Amid the rising number of mucormycosis, doctors treating patients of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), as well as those who have recovered, have reported cases of aspergillosis. Doctors in Maharashtra’s Mumbai and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh have said they said found patients with aspergillosis.

Aspergillosis is an infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mold that lives indoors and outdoors. People can get aspergillosis by breathing in microscopic Aspergillus spores from the environment. Most of us breathe in Apergillus spores every day without getting sick but those with weakened immune systems or lung diseases are at a higher risk of developing health issues.

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The types of health problems caused by Apergillus include allergic reactions, lung infections and infections in other organs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Aspergillosis is not contagious and can’t spread between people or between people and animals from the lungs.

What are the types of aspergillosis?

1. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA): ABPA occurs when Aspergillus causes inflammation in the lungs and allergy symptoms such as coughing and wheezing, but doesn’t cause an infection.

2. Allergic Aspergillus sinusitis: It occurs when Aspergillus causes inflammation in the sinuses and symptoms of a sinus infection such as drainage, stuffiness and headache but doesn’t cause an infection.

3. Azole-Resistant Aspergillus fumigatus: When one species of Aspergillus, A fumigatus, becomes resistant to certain medicines used to treat it, it can lead to Azole-Resistant Aspergillus fumigatus.

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4. Aspergilloma: Aspergilloma, also called a “fungus ball”, occurs when a ball of Aspergillus grows in the lungs or sinuses, but usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

5. Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis: Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis occurs when Aspergillus infection causes cavities in the lungs and can be a long-term condition.

6. Invasive aspergillosis: It happens when Aspergillus causes a serious infection and usually affects people who have weakened immune systems, such as those who have had an organ transplant or a stem cell transplant. Invasive aspergillosis most commonly affects the lungs, but it can also spread to other parts of the body.

7. Cutaneous or skin aspergillosis: This occurs when Aspergillus enters the body through a break in the skin—for example, after surgery or a burn wound—and causes infection, usually in people who have weakened immune systems. It can also occur if invasive aspergillosis spreads to the skin from somewhere else in the body, such as the lungs, according to CDC.

Who can get aspergillosis?

According to the US health body, different types of aspergillosis affect different groups of people.

1. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) most often occurs in people who have cystic fibrosis or asthma.

2. Aspergillomas usually affect people who have other lung diseases like tuberculosis. Also called a “fungus ball.”

Also read | India adds 173,790 fresh Covid-19 cases to tally, lowest in 45 days

3. Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis typically occurs in people who have other lung diseases, including tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or sarcoidosis.

4. Invasive aspergillosis affects people who have weakened immune systems, such as people who have had a stem cell transplant or organ transplant, are getting chemotherapy for cancer, or are taking high doses of corticosteroids. Invasive aspergillosis has been described among hospitalised patients with severe influenza.

What are the symptoms of aspergillosis?

According to CDC, the different types of aspergillosis can cause different symptoms. The symptoms of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) are similar to asthma symptoms, including wheezing, shortness of breath, cough and fever (in rare cases).

Stuffiness, runny nose, headache and reduced ability to smell are among symptoms of allergic Aspergillus sinusitis. Symptoms of an aspergilloma or “fungus ball” include cough, coughing up blood and shortness of breath. Those who get chronic pulmonary aspergillosis complain of weight loss, cough, coughing up blood, fatigue and shortness of breath.

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Fever is a common symptom of invasive aspergillosis. Invasive aspergillosis usually occurs in people who are already sick from other medical conditions, so it can be difficult to know which symptoms are related to an Apergillus infection. However, the symptoms of invasive aspergillosis in the lungs fever, chest pain, cough, coughing up blood and shortness of breath. CDC says other symptoms can develop if the infection spreads from the lungs to other parts of the body.

Treatment

Reports said aspergillosis is generally treated with Voriconazole and that doctors are also treating patients with an antifungal medicine - Isavuconazole.

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