Understanding Aspergillus Infection: An Overview
An Aspergillus infection, also known as Aspergillosis, refers to a multitude of allergic reactions, infection, and disease as a result of contact with any Aspergillus fungi. Aspergillosis manifests as an invasive pulmonary infection in immunosuppressed hosts. Other clinical features include a fever, coughing, and pain in the chest area. Clinical features of Aspergillosis in immunocompetent hosts include localized pulmonary infections for patients suffering from lung disease. Aspergillosis can also be responsible for allergic bronchopulmonary disease as well as allergic sinusitis.
The aetiologic agent of Aspergillosis is Aspergillus fumigatus referred to as A. flavus. It may also be written as A. niger, A. nidulans, and A. terreus. The reservoir of the Aspergillus fungi is wide and varied. Aspergillus fungi can be found in the earth, and various natural and man made areas such as compost, decomposing plant matter, building materials, food, dust, water, and household plants.
It is difficult to report the incidence of Aspergillus infection because there is no nationwide tracking of the disease. There are some studies conducted regarding Aspergillosis with regards to haematopoletic stem cell as well as organ transplant recipients. There is sample data from San Francisco that estimates that approximately two people out of 100,000 get Aspergillosis every year. The mortality rate of Aspergillus infection can be up to 100% if the disease occurs in individuals suffering from cerebral abscesses and severe granulocytopaenia takes place. The key to successful recovery from Aspergillosis is successful resolution of the granulocytopaenia as well as prompt administration of antifungal drugs.
Transmission of Aspergillosis can occur from airborne spores inhaled by individuals. Construction may expose individuals to dust which could cause nosocomial infection. In some instances, biomedical devices that have been contaminated have been known to cause cutaneous infection of Aspergillosis.
Individuals who have received organ transplants or are taking high dosages of corticosteroids are at greater risk of Aspergillus infection. Patients suffering from severe granulocytopaenia are also at risk. Individuals with an HIV infection have been known to contract Aspergillus infection, as well.
Our comprehension of Aspergillosis poses the challenge of better understanding the sources of the disease and how it is transmitted from the environment around us to individuals. Another challenge is to diagnose the disease with greater speed, ease, and accuracy. In the case of immunocompromised individuals, it is a challenge to pinpoint possibilities of the various diseases that could result from Aspergillosis.
Scientists hope that the creation of molecular probes as well as rapid antigenemia and antigenuria tests will make diagnosis of Aspergillosis easier. The accessibility of better molecular typing methods will help document studies of the epidemic scale.