Pulmonary Aspergillosis and COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its hold on world health, the emergence of fungal infections has the scientific and medical communities concerned. Pulmonary Aspergillosis is chief among them. At Pure Air Control Services, we cautioned building managers about the dangers of this infection long before the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak occurred. In fact, we talked about the co-morbidity of this often misdiagnosed condition with other respiratory infections in a post published in 2015. It remains one of our most-read articles. 

The Pulmonary Aspergillosis infection is not widespread like the coronavirus. However, with diminished lung capacity, those infected with COVID remain at a higher risk for viral and fungal infections. Let’s look at what this infection is and how it happens.

Pulmonary Aspergillosis Explained

Pulmonary Aspergillosis is caused by the Aspergillus fungus. It is an allergic reaction that in many cases increases the damage of a pre-existing disease such as COVID-19. If left untreated it can also develop into additional respiratory conditions.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Aspergillosis include:

  • Frequent chest pain
  • Fever
  • Coughing with bloody discharge
  • Difficulty breathing

This condition is often diagnosed in patients in long-term intensive care units, as well as in organ transplant patients, and those receiving prolonged steroid treatment.

COVID and Pulmonary Aspergillosis

COVID-19 patients often meet two conditions under which Pulmonary Aspergillosis infection develops. These patients receive steroid treatment and also spend long periods in the ICU.  This condition is known as COVID-19 associated pulmonary aspergillosis, or CAPA, and it is found in 14% of COVID-19 patients. Early detection and treatment are critical. 

Treatment of Pulmonary Aspergillosis may include an antifungal medication but surgery is also a possibility for extreme cases. CT chest and blood tests guide any treatment decisions. Even with treatment, the lungs cannot be restored completely and any treatment methods must take into consideration the existing lung capacity. 

It’s important to keep in mind that COVID-19 is not a direct cause of Pulmonary Aspergillosis, but immunocompromised patients receiving severe treatment for the virus are at high risk for this infection.

Aspergillus and HVAC Systems

Aspergillus can grow in any indoor environment including spas, gyms, offices, and healthcare facilities. As a result, controlling the environment that allows the fungus to grow is key to preventing its spread.

HVAC System Maintenance

Regular cleaning and servicing of HVAC equipment is the solution to many IAQ problems including the development of a Pulmonary Aspergillosis infection. It limits the spread of airborne viruses and fungi. Ventilation is also important to creating healthy indoor environments. 

Pure Air Control’s Building Sciences services inspect HVAC systems and offer recommendations for improvements. We test for the presence of Aspergillus and many other kinds of fungi. We also clean, disinfect HVAC systems, and provide around-the-clock monitoring of indoor conditions.

Our Building Health Check conducts field and lab evaluations that measure indoor air quality. The EDLAb tests for molds and viruses, logs temperatures and wall moisture and relative humidity levels.

The PURE-Steam method thoroughly cleans and disinfects the AHU and evaporator coils and our PURE-Duct method goes deep inside the ductwork to knock out and remove dust and debris. Next, PURE-Decon kills any remaining pathogens.

Additionally, DIY tests give both business owners and homeowners quick results to determine the presence of bacteria, mold, fungi, and other pathogens. Surface samples sent to EDLab get results within three to five days.

Controlling Pulmonary Aspergillosis

COVID-19 has not gone away and the potential threat of other viruses and infections exists as well.  Therefore, facilities managers need to keep on top of IAQ issues with environmental testing. Also HVAC cleanliness and maintenance protects staff and other building occupants from outbreaks.  To learn more about how Pure Air Controls helps businesses maintain safe IAQ, contact Pure Air Controls today.