Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Malaria causes aspergillosis

Plasmodium falciparum ring-forms and gametocytes in human blood.
A case of a malaria sufferer who subsequently developed aspergillosis has been reported in the scientific media.
Malaria is caused by the invasion of the victims blood by tiny parasites called Plasmodium with several different species being involved. These parasites multiply within the red blood cells of the host causing a variety of symptoms including anaemia (i.e. lack of red blood cells), fever, chills, nausea, flu-like illness, and, in severe cases, coma, and death.
The disease is carried by one particular type of mosquito and is a major health problem in some parts of the world, mainly sub-saharan Africa. One to three million people a year die of malaria with hundreds of millions infected. It is known that one of the mechnisms that the malaria parasite uses to avoid being detected and removed by the hosts immune system is to
inhibit at least on part of the immune system - phagocytes.


Aspergillus
cannot normally infect people with normal, efficient immune systems. Even if that immune system is damaged Aspergillosis (i.e. infection by Aspergillus) is not common and is very rare except in the most extreme cases of immunocompromisation e.g. after transplant or during treatment of some cancers - malaria does not cause extreme immunocompromisation.

In this case however a patient who is otherwise completely healthy but who has malaria has become infected and there are four other cases quoted, all of whom died. In this case the patient was successfully treated with an antifungal medication and completely recovered. This is the first recorded incidence of a successful intervention of this type of case.

2 comments:

Maribeth said...

I have a question regarding the mosquito involved in the trandmission of the Malaria Parasite. Could the same mosquito be a vector for the transmission of the Aspergillus, a mosquito that may have already been infected?
Some believe that the disease "Morgellons" is an Aspergiliosis effecting non-immunocompromised hosts. Insect bites are now being associated with the onset of this disease. I'd love to know your thougts on this.
Thank you,
McBeth

Website Team GA said...

"Morgellon's" is not yet accepted as a distinct disease (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgellons) and has no known link with Aspergillus. I presume you are postulating that the 'threads' apparently picked from the wounds of people who believe that they have this illness is related to fungal threads - in fact these have been attributed to fibres from clothing in all cases where samples have been provided. Clothing fibres are many times thicker than fungal fibres so it is highly unlikely that the two could be confused.

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