Friday, 24 June 2011

TV Soap Star Struck Down by Aspergillosis

BBC Scotland TV soap actor Frank Gallagher (not the character with the same name in the Channel 4 series Shameless) has been treated for aspergillosis. Frank played the 'hardman' Lenny Murdock in the series and was suddenly struck down with severe respiratory difficulties which did not respond to antibiotics.

Antibiotics would successfully treat the normal cause of these symptoms (bacteria) but it was only after this course of treatment failed that it was realised that Aspergillus was the culprit. One factor that makes it more difficult to diagnose Aspergillosis is that during each course of antibiotics Frank (in common with other patients suffering from this infection) felt better for a short time so making it appear that the antibiotic was working, before relapsing again. Several courses of antibiotics were probably tried before further investigations were carried out and aspergillosis was discovered as it is highly unusual for the average doctor to come across a case of aspergillosis.

In Frank's case the delay before treating his aspergillosis with an antifungal drug does not seem to have made his illness markedly worse as he now feels much better, but in some cases it can be very dangerous. Better techniques for more rapid diagnosis are desperately needed and are currently under research but there is a lot of work to do yet.

Research into diagnostic techniques is one of the main aims of the Aspergillosis research charity Fungal Research Trust and its £150 000 fundraising campaign

Frank is now well enough to return to River City thanks to a course of antifungals.

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