UK burden of fungal asthma greatly exceeds prior estimates, new study warns

November 16, 2016
Asexual structures of Apergillus niger. Credit: The University of Manchester

Experts are warning of a significant increase in the number of people in the UK who are living with invasive and serious fungal diseases that affect the lungs, bloodstream and brain and can sometimes lead to death.

While invasive fungal infections were estimated by the Health Protection Agency in 2006 a new report is the first comprehensive attempt to capture how many people in the UK suffer from fungal asthma.

Asthma in adults is common in the UK with over 4 million reported cases, and researchers in Manchester believe as many as 300,000 of them are affected by fungal asthma.

The research from the National Aspergillosis Centre based at The University of Manchester - is published by the British Infection Association.

Fungal asthma is such a big problem because the UK has one of the highest rates of asthma internationally. The range of estimate reflects uncertainty as no community study has ever been done, despite the large number affected. Asthmatics allergic to and exposed to higher amounts of fungi that they breathe in usually have poor asthma control and require steroid boosters. Antifungal therapy benefits these people, and may prevent deaths from asthma, doctors believe.

Invasive aspergillosis is the commonest missed infectious diagnosis in intensive care in the UK. It is always fatal without therapy and affects from 3,288 to 4,257 patients each year, most undiagnosed. Treated invasive aspergillosis has a 30-85 per cent mortality depending on the patient group.

Dr Bradford Winters in 2012 analysed deaths in , and invasive aspergillosis was the commonest missed infectious diagnosis.

Pneumocystis pneumonia has been increasing, especially in the non-HIV group, and probably affects over 500 annually. 15-50 per cent of these patients die, even if treated.

Although 1,700 cases of Candida bloodstream infections are reported annually, the actual estimate of tissue invasive cases in hospitalised and critically ill people is 5,124. This carries a ~45% mortality, if diagnosed and treated.

A Health Protection Agency report from 2006 estimated that ~66 per cent of those who die of fungal infection could have been saved with faster recognition and rapid diagnosis.

Experts believe rarer infections and antifungal resistant infections are probably on the increase, including Candida auris and multi-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus derived from the environment.

The University of Manchester's Professor David Denning Director of the National Aspergillosis Centre, explained: "While the UK is rich in data sources, there is a remarkable poverty of contemporary studies of . An accurate estimate of total burden will ultimately rely on improved diagnostic testing and laboratory reporting.

"This report gets us closer to true burden of fungal diseases in the UK - necessary for improved diagnosis and reducing death. The scale of the 'fungal asthma' problem is staggering, and potentially remediable with , as I know from treating hundreds of affected patients," he added.

The paper, 'Estimating the burden of invasive and Q13 serious fungal disease in the United Kingdom' M. Pegorie, D.W. Denning, W. Welfare will be published in the Journal of Infection.

Explore further: Early diagnosis, effective therapy vital for treatment of deadly invasive aspergillosis

Related Stories

Early diagnosis, effective therapy vital for treatment of deadly invasive aspergillosis

June 30, 2016
New therapies are improving care, but early diagnosis remains critical in the effective treatment of invasive, a potentially deadly fungal infection, according to new guidelines released by the Infectious Diseases Society ...

Improved diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections could prevent over a million AIDS deaths by 2020

November 8, 2016
Fungal infection causes around half of AIDS-related deaths, of which there were 1,100,000 in 2015. Data analysis by Professor David Denning and published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B suggests that ...

World's first clinical guidelines for chronic fungal lung infections

December 22, 2015
The world's first guidelines for chronic fungal lung infections for doctors and laboratories have been published today, by the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious ...

First 13 cases of deadly fungal infection emerge in US

November 4, 2016
Thirteen cases of a sometimes deadly and often drug-resistant fungal infection, Candida auris, have been reported in the United States for the first time, health officials said Friday.

Recommended for you

Evidence found of oral bacteria contributing to bowel disorders

October 20, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found evidence that suggests certain types of oral bacteria may cause or exacerbate bowel disorders. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes ...

New compound discovered in fight against inflammatory disease

September 22, 2017
A 10-year study by University of Manchester scientists for a new chemical compound that is able to block a key component in inflammatory illness has ended in success.

Asthma researchers test substance from coralberry leaves

September 14, 2017
The coralberry could offer new hope for asthmatics. Researchers at the University of Bonn have extracted an active pharmaceutical ingredient from its leaves to combat asthma, a widespread respiratory disease. In mice, it ...

Respiratory experts urge rethink of 'outdated' asthma categorisation

September 12, 2017
A group of respiratory medicine experts have called for an overhaul of how asthma and other airways diseases are categorised and treated.

New 'biologic' drug may help severe asthma

September 7, 2017
(HealthDay)—A "biologic" drug in development to treat severe asthma reduces the rate of serious attacks by about two-thirds compared to a placebo drug, according to preliminary research findings.

Songbird study shows how estrogen may stop infection-induced brain inflammation

August 31, 2017
The chemical best-known as a female reproductive hormone—estrogen—could help fight off neurodegenerative conditions and diseases in the future. Now, new research by American University neuroscience Professor Colin Saldanha ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.