Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Undiagnosed Aspergillosis Man 'Looked Like He Had Been Shot!'

Following on from an earlier story in this blog that mentioned the dangers of undiagnosed aspergillosis from an initial tuberculosis infection the evidence given in the Coroner's hearing reveals that when police first arrived at the scene they assumed that the victim had been shot.

Why?

If pulmonary aspergillosis is not diagnosed and effectively treated one of the most severe symptoms is haemptysis or bleeding from the lungs caused by erosion of major blood vessels by the growing fungus. Effective treatment limits the amount of bleeding by slowing fungal growth and by controlling the severity of bleeding using a variety of techniques to help block off areas prone to bleeding - there is even some evidence that some antifungal drugs have a direct effect on the formation of new blood vessels in the area of infection (angiogenesis) and thus also help to limit bleeding.

The bacterium that causes tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis)
Untreated aspergillosis (estimates say that 2% of people diagnosed with tuberculosis may suffer from aspergillosis) looks to be a lot more common that previously thought. We need to increase awareness of this possibility and to provide appropriate diagnostic techniques & experience and then provide effective treatment to help prevent more cases like this dreadful death.

Why is this not done? Up until the very recent research carried out at The National Aspergillosis Centre (NAC), Manchester, UK we simply didn't know that large groups such as TB could be at such high risk. Medication used to be very expensive but now this is much less of an issue as itraconazole has become available from a variety of sources at a much lower cost than that it was previously available for.

The presence of the National Aspergillosis Centre serves to focus attention on this illness and staff are seeking it out everywhere it can be found! The NAC is the first centre of expertise exclusively available to fight this disease and is actively raising awareness and advising medical colleagues all over the world.

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