Aspergillosis is the name of a group of conditions caused by a mould called aspergillus. This family of moulds usually affects the respiratory system (windpipe, sinuses and lungs), but can spread to anywhere in the body. Symptoms can vary from mild wheezing to coughing up blood and people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of being more severely affected.
What causes aspergillosis?
Aspergillosis is caused by breathing in small spores of aspergillus mould. This family of moulds can be found in a wide range of environments including rotting leaves, compost, crops and other plants, and trees. These moulds can also grow inside buildings, in air conditioning and heating systems, insulation material, carpets, pillows and bedding, dust, household plants and ground pepper and spices.
If you inhale an aspergillus mould and have a healthy immune system, your body will usually isolate and destroy the mould before it can spread to your lungs. However, if you have damaged lungs or a weakened immune system, you are more likely to develop aspergillosis after breathing in aspergillus spores. The condition is not contagious and can not be passed between people or animals.
The National Aspergillosis Centre at UHSM
The UK National Aspergillosis Centre is based at our renowned North West Lung Centre. The centre has been commissioned by the Department of Health to provide long term care for patients with chronic pulmonary aspergillosis. We are a national leader in developing expertise in the clinical management of chronic pulmonary aspergillosis with sophisticated diagnostic testing and monitoring for patients with this condition. Developing research, knowledge, and expertise in this area, supports the advancements in high quality clinical care required to contribute to the care of patients with all forms of aspergillosis. The centre is led by Professor David Denning.
How is aspergillosis diagnosed and treated?
Chest x-rays and CT scans can be used to show abnormalities and exactly where the disease is located. Bronchoscopy – inspection of the inside of the lung with a small tube inserted via the nose – is often used to help to confirm the diagnosis along with cultures and blood tests.
The treatment of fungal infections can broadly be described in terms of three classes of antifungal drugs, the echinocandins, the azoles and the polyenes. Our team have the most highly specialised level of knowledge about the use of these drugs and work with patients to find the most effective treatment.
How can I be referred to the Centre?
Patients are referred to the centre by their GP or specialist Consultant. We do not operate with Choose and Book and referrals have to be made directly to the centre.
The criteria for chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA) are:
- At least one pulmonary cavity on chest imaging with or without a fungal ball (aspergilloma) which has been present for at least three months and a positive aspergillus species test results by either serology or culture.
The Department of Health will take financial responsibility (through the National Aspergillosis Centre) for those with:
- At least two or more pulmonary cavities on chest imaging, one single unresectable cavity, and a test result showing serology or cultures indicating aspergillus species.
The National Aspergillosis Centre is located in the Education and Research Centre at University Hospital South Manchester, Wythenshawe.
Our Outpatient Clinics take place at the North West Lung Centre – enter through the main entrance of Wythenshawe Hospital, turn right onto the Yellow corridor and look out for the overhead sign indicating the North West Lung Centre on your right. The North West Lung Centre outpatient clinic is located on the ground floor of the Centre, off the main corridor near Entrance 3.
Find us on a map here. The closest parking is in the main visitor car park, in front of the Acute Block.
Tel: 0161 291 5811
Fax: 0161 291 5806
Other sources of useful information
Website and resources for patients and carers: http://www.nacpatients.org.uk/
News about aspergillosis: http://www.aspergillus.org.uk/blogger
Fungal research in Manchester: http://www.fungimanchester.org
Annual reports 2009-2015: http://www.nacpatients.org.uk/nac-reports