Drug resistant mould found in the UK – immunocompromised could be at risk

Covid booster ’enough to stop serious infection’ says expert

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So far six cases of people infected with Aspergillus fumigatus have been discovered.

The details of these cases have been published by the team of scientists in the journal Nature Microbiology.

Senior author of the work Professor Matthew Fisher said: “More and more people might be susceptible to Aspergillus fumigatus infection because of growing numbers of people receiving stem cell or solid organ transplants, being on immunosuppressive therapy, or having lung conditions or severe viral respiratory infections”.

Professor Fisher says this forms part of an upward trend: “The prevalence of drug-resistant aspergillosis has grown from negligible levels before 1999 to up to 3-40 percent of cases now across Europe”.

Aspergillosis is the name of the infection Aspergillus causes in the lungs of immunocompromised individuals.

Symptoms the infection causes include:
• Shortness of breath
• A cough
• Wheezing
• A high temperature of 38C or higher
• Weight loss.

A patient with an existing lung condition could see their symptoms worsen in the event of the addition of this immune infraction.

Despite a name likely unfamiliar to most, aspergillosis is not an uncommon infection, affecting millions worldwide.

Aspergillosis is normally treated with drugs known as Azoles.

Although azoles are used to effectively treat multiple conditions, the presence of an agricultural agent in their construction means mould could become resistant to the drugs in the future.

Lead author of the Imperial College Study Dr Johanna Rhodes says this has already started to happen: “Increasingly, the cases of aspergillosis seen in the clinic are resistant to first-line azole drugs”.

However, while scientists know of the infections, they don’t know why they are happening.

Dr Rhodes explains they’ve “not been sure how patients are acquiring these infections – whether they develop in the lungs during treatment for the infection, or whether the mould spores that infect them are drug-resistant in the first place”.

What they do know says Rhodes is: “Our study confirms concerns that pre-resistant mould spores in the environment are able to enter and infect people’s lungs causing harder-to-treat disease.”

Further research into these cases will hopefully lead to enlightenment as to why people are catching these infections and why fungi are starting to cause drug-resistant infections.

Meanwhile, the medicinal community is continuing to be stumped by a rise in acute hepatitis cases in children.

So far over 100 cases have been discovered in the UK and the infection has been found in 12 countries worldwide.

So far two children have had to undergo liver transplants as a result of the condition, and one has reportedly died from the condition.

Scientists currently believe the virus is linked to the adenovirus infection.

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