Aspergillosis is an infection, growth, or allergic response due to the Aspergillus fungus.
Aspergillosis is caused by a fungus (Aspergillus), which is commonly found growing on dead leaves, stored grain, compost piles, or in other decaying vegetation. It can also be found on marijuana.
Although most people are frequently exposed to aspergillus, infections caused by the fungus rarely occur in people with a normal immune system. The rare infections caused by aspergillus include pneumonia and fungus ball (aspergilloma).
There are several forms of aspergillosis:
Symptoms depend on the type of infection. For symptoms of aspergillosis-related growth, see aspergilloma.
Symptoms of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis may include:
Additional symptoms seen in invasive aspergillosis depend on the part of the body affected, and may include:
Tests to diagnose Aspergillus infection include:
A fungus ball is usually not treated (with antifungal medicines) unless there is bleeding into the lung tissue. In that case, surgery is required.
Invasive aspergillosis is treated with several weeks of an antifungal drug called voriconizole. It can be given orally or in an IV (directly into a vein). Amphotericin B, eichinocandins, or itraconazole can also be used.
Endocarditis caused by Aspergillus is treated by surgically removing the infected heart valves. Long-term amphotericin B therapy is also needed.
Antifungal drugs do not help people with allergic aspergillosis. Allergic aspergillosis is treated with immunosuppressive drugs -- most often prednisone taken by mouth.
People with allergic aspergillosis usually get better gradually, with treatment. It is common for the disease to come back (relapse) and need repeat treatment.
If invasive aspergillosis does not get better with drug treatment, it eventually leads to death. What happens to a person with invasive aspergillosis also depends on the underlying disease and immune system function.
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of aspergillosis or if you have a weakened immune system and develop a fever.
Be careful when using medications that suppress the immune system. Prevention of AIDS prevents certain diseases, including aspergillosis, that are associated with a damaged or weaken immune system.