Aspergillosis: Breaking the mystery of this hidden disease

With COVID-19 and countless health threats everywhere, people are putting their health at top priority more than ever. Every day, the immune system is hard at work to keep the body healthy and functioning normally. But besides that, keeping up with the right knowledge about health is also important and may greatly help in keeping oneself healthy, because certain diseases if untreated may lead to severe disease or even death.

If there’s anything that has been learned three years into the pandemic, it’s that prevention is better than cure. But what is Aspergillosis? It may sound unfamiliar to some, but it’s actually more common than one would think. However, because its symptoms mimic those of other illnesses, Aspergillosis is often mistaken for something else.

Aspergillosis is a fungal infection caused by Aspergillus—a mold that lives much closer than one would imagine. It is commonly found in indoor and outdoor spaces. More specifically, it thrives in dust, soil, trees, and grains. It is practically everywhere– In fact, most people breathe it in every day. The good news is, those with a healthy immune system may experience little to no symptoms. However, this seemingly harmless mold can cause serious effects on people with weakened immune systems and underlying conditions such as lung diseases.

Aspergillosis is often confused for asthma because patients may share the same experience like wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and in rare cases, fever. However, more severe cases of Aspergillosis can exhibit more serious symptoms such as coughing up blood, shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain. There are two types of Aspergillosis: Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis (CPA) and Invasive Aspergillosis (IA). The former is found in patients who are immunocompromised or mildly immunocompromised with underlying respiratory disorders occurring over at least 3 months, while the latter is observed in patients who are markedly immunocompromised.

Annually, about 3 million cases of CPA and more than 300,000 cases of IA are reported globally. Over the course of 10 years, CPA’s survival rate decreases from 86% to 47% while IA’s mortality rate can go around from 30% to 80%6. If left untreated, IA could lead to a 100% mortality rate5. This is why prevention is crucial, especially for patients with underlying conditions.

People who suffer from respiratory diseases like asthma, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and people who have weakened immune systems have a higher risk of experiencing Aspergillosis.

For people who have these conditions, it is important to take certain steps to prevent Aspergillosis from developing. Though it is hard to keep from breathing Aspergillus spores, given that this mold is common in the environment, there are still effective ways to decrease the chances of severe Aspergillosis from developing in people with weakened immune systems. Much like any respiratory disease, it is ideal to wear fitted masks to prevent breathing in harmful particles or in this case, Aspergillus spores. It is also advisable to avoid places that are prone to be dusty, and if possible, refrain from doing activities that enable people to get close to possibly infected soil. Although these methods are not proven to prevent Aspergillosis entirely, health professionals still recommend precautions for people who are highly at risk to keep themselves protected against the environment.

Some people may be wondering how an infection so common can be so unfamiliar? This is why Pfizer Philippines Inc., one of the leading pharmaceutical companies globally, along with healthcare professionals and healthcare institutions alike, come together on February 1 of every year and commemorate World Aspergillosis Day through various efforts to educate people from all around the world about the phenomenon that is Aspergillosis and the adverse effects of Aspergillus spores.

To know more about Pfizer, its services, and other medical-related advocacy awareness efforts, visit Pfizer, Inc.’s local office is located at 19/F – 20/F 8 Rockwell Building, Rockwell Center, Hidalgo Drive, Makati City.

PP-AIP-PHL-0284; February 2022

Pfizer, Inc.

19/F – 20/F 8 Rockwell Building
Rockwell Center, Hidalgo Drive
Makati City 1200