Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Better Diagnostics Needed to Detect Aspergillosis

Tuberculosis rates worldwide
A recent story in the Malibu Times illustrates how badly we need rapid diagnostics for the detection of infections by Aspergillus. In some acute cases (e.g. if the patient has a poorly functioning immune system i.e. immunocompromised) we can detect aspergillosis but only after several days wait and this can often be too late for the patient.

In the case described in the Malibu Times the person suffering an infection seems to have had a fully functioning immune system but was apparently never diagnosed. Infections of these people (i.e. most of us) can happen if the person has some form of lung damage - perhaps from a different infection many years before and not necessarily Tuberculosis (Tb) which was ruled out in this case.

Infection of people who are not immunocompromised may be far more common than we used to think. Recent estimates suggest around 2% of people who have had Tb will become infected with Aspergillus which equates to nearly 400 000 people worldwide per year with nearly 2 million in total. All of those people need to be quickly and correctly diagnosed and treated with antifungal medication to improve their outlook and help prevent the sudden highly unpleasant deaths like that which suffered by Mr Rodas.

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