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Aspergillosis Risk & Prevention

Who gets aspergillosis?

The different types of aspergillosis affect different groups of people.1

  • Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) most often occurs in people who have cystic fibrosis or asthma.
  • Aspergillomas usually affect people who have other lung diseases like tuberculosis.
  • Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis typically occurs in people who have other lung diseases, including tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or sarcoidosis.2
  • Invasive aspergillosis affects people who have weakened immune systems, such as people who have had a stem cell transplant or organ transplant, are getting chemotherapy for cancer, or are taking high doses of corticosteroids.

How does someone get aspergillosis?

People can get aspergillosis by breathing in microscopic Aspergillus spores from the environment. Most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to Aspergillus.

Is aspergillosis contagious?

No. Aspergillosis can’t spread between people or between people and animals from the lungs.

How can I prevent aspergillosis?

It’s difficult to avoid breathing in Aspergillus spores because the fungus is common in the environment. For people who have weakened immune systems, there may be some ways to lower the chances of developing a severe Aspergillus infection.

  • Protect yourself from the environment.3,4 It’s important to note that although these actions are recommended, they haven’t been proven to prevent aspergillosis.
    • Try to avoid areas with a lot of dust like construction or excavation sites. If you can’t avoid these areas, wear an N95 respirator (a type of face mask) while you’re there. Click here for more information about respirators.
    • Avoid activities that involve close contact to soil or dust, such as yard work or gardening. If this isn’t possible,
      • Wear shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when doing outdoor activities such as gardening, yard work, or visiting wooded areas.
      • Wear gloves when handling materials such as soil, moss, or manure.
    • To reduce the chances of developing a skin infection, clean skin injuries well with soap and water, especially if they have been exposed to soil or dust.
  • Antifungal medication. If you are at high risk for developing invasive aspergillosis (for example, if you’ve had an organ transplant or a stem cell transplant), your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to prevent aspergillosis.5,6 Scientists are still learning about which transplant patients are at highest risk and how to best prevent fungal infections.
  • Testing for early infection. Some high-risk patients may benefit from blood tests to detect invasive aspergillosis.7,8 Talk to your doctor to determine if this type of test is right for you.

For more information about indoor mold, including cleanup and remediation recommendations, please visit CDC’s Basic Facts about Mold webpage.

If you are a healthcare provider or healthcare infection control practitioner, click here for aspergillosis prevention guidelines and other resources.9

References

  1. Barnes PD, Marr KA. Aspergillosis: spectrum of disease, diagnosis, and treatment. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2006 Sep;20(3):545-61, vi.
  2. Schweer KE, Bangard C, Hekmat K, Cornely OA. Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis. Mycoses. 2014 May;57(5):257-70.
  3. Avery RK, Michaels MG. Strategies for safe living after solid organ transplantation. Am J Transplant. 2013 Mar;13 Suppl 4:304-10.
  4. CDC. Guidelines for preventing opportunistic infections among hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. MMWR. 2000 Oct;49(RR-10):1-125, CE1-7.
  5. Brizendine KD, Vishin S, Baddley JW. Antifungal prophylaxis in solid organ transplant recipients. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2011 May;9(5):571-81.
  6. Rogers TR, Slavin MA, Donnelly JP. Antifungal prophylaxis during treatment for haematological malignancies: are we there yet? Br J Haemato. 2011 Jun;153(6):681-97.
  7. Maertens J, Van Eldere J, Verhaegen J, Verbeken E, Verschakelen J, Boogaerts M. Use of circulating galactomannan screening for early diagnosis of invasive aspergillosis in allogeneic stem cell transplant recipients. J Infect Dis. 2002 Nov 1;186(9):1297-306.
  8. Lackner M1, Lass-Flörl C. Up-date on diagnostic strategies of invasive aspergillosis. Curr Pharm Design 2013;19(20):3595-614.
  9. Weber DJ et al. Preventing healthcare-associated Aspergillus infections: a review of recent CDC/HICPAC recommendations. Med Mycol 2009; 47S1: S199-209.
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