Aspergillus mold is virtually unavoidable. Outdoors, it's found in decaying leaves and compost and on plants, trees and grain crops. Inside, the spores — the reproductive parts of mold — thrive in air conditioning and heating ducts, insulation, and some food and spices. Aspergillus is so common in old buildings, even in older hospitals, that small epidemics have occurred among people with weakened immune systems when nearby buildings have been torn down.
Everyday exposure to aspergillus is rarely a problem for people with healthy immune systems. When mold spores are inhaled, immune system cells simply surround and destroy them. But people who have a weakened immune system from illness or immunosuppressant medications have fewer infection-fighting cells. This allows aspergillus to take hold, invading the lungs and, in the most serious cases, other parts of the body.
Aspergillosis is not contagious from person to person.
Apr. 29, 2011
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