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Aspergillosis is an infection that frequently affects the lungs. It is caused by the fungus Aspergillus. Species of Aspergillus are found on decaying vegetation and in soil. When the mold becomes airborne in dust, it can make its way into homes through open windows or air vents. In certain children, it can lead to allergic reactions and infections. When aspergillosis causes an allergic reaction, it affects the lungs, triggering symptoms such as wheezing, coughing up of brown mucus, and a low-grade fever. This form of aspergillosis is called allergic aspergillosis and occurs most often in children with chronic asthma or cystic fibrosis. Aspergillus species can form fungus balls called aspergillomas. These form within preexisting holes in the lungs. Such holes are found in children who have lung cysts or cystic fibrosis. Aspergillomas can also be found in the lungs of adults with cavities formed during tuberculosis or other types of pneumonia.

Aspergillus species can cause severe disease in children whose immune systems are weakened. The lungs are often involved, as are the sinuses and ear canals. This is a serious infection (invasive aspergillosis) that often destroys the lungs and can result in death. To diagnose aspergillosis, your pediatrician will evaluate your child’s symptoms. If he has the allergic type of aspergillosis, your pediatrician will order blood tests to measure immunoglobulin E levels and antibodies to the fungus. If your child has an impaired immune system and aspergillosis is suspected, the doctor will order an x-ray film or computed tomography (CT) scan of the infected area. Cultures of sputum or lung tissue are needed to identify the fungus. Treatment for invasive infection involves the use of antifungal medications such as amphotericin B. Treatment of allergic aspergillosis involves steroids as well as antifungal agents.

 

Last Updated
5/11/2013
Source
Immunizations & Infectious Diseases: An Informed Parent's Guide (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.