People who suffer with the inherited genetic disease cystic fibrosis (CF) are very vulnerable to lung infection by a number of organisms - of which aspergillus is one and which can be difficult to diagnose and treat. A recent study has looked at a group of CF patients and the occurrence of aspergillus. Patients with cystic fibrosis can be susceptible to colonisation with aspergillus species, to which an allergic reaction can then occur leading to allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA).
A recent study reported in "Respiratory Care" by Chotirmall et al has addressed the rate of colonisation with aspergillus and ABPA in a group of cystic fibrosis patients (CF) from Ireland.
A group of 50 patients with CF were studied for the presence of aspergillus in sputum and for other signs of ABPA. It was found that 30% of the CF group grew aspergillus from their sputum samples, whilst 12% of patients had ABPA. Subjects with ABPA experienced a sharp, short-term deterioration in lung function, which returned to baseline following at least 4 weeks of treatment. Those positive for aspergillus in sputum showed no difference in forced expiratory lung volume, compared to those who were not aspergillus positive.
The authors concluded that the prevalence of ABPA was 12% but that aspergillus positive sputum on its own was not a poor prognostic sign for lung function, over the 5 year study period. The frequency of aspergillus isolates did not correlate with the occurrence of ABPA, but awareness of ABPA should be considered in any patient who did not improve after taking antibiotics for lung infection.
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