Your risk of developing aspergillosis depends on your overall health and the extent of your exposure to mold. In general, these factors make you more vulnerable to infection:

  • Weakened immune system. People taking immune-suppressing drugs after undergoing transplant surgery — especially bone marrow or stem cell transplants — or people who have certain cancers of the blood are at highest risk of invasive aspergillosis. People in the later stages of AIDS also may be at increased risk.
  • Low white blood cell level. Having chemotherapy, an organ transplant or leukemia lowers your white cell level, making you more susceptible to invasive aspergillosis. So does having chronic granulomatous disease — an inherited disorder that affects immune system cells.
  • Lung cavities. People who have healed air spaces (cavities) in their lungs are at higher risk of developing a mass of tangled fungus fibers (aspergilloma). Cavities are areas that have been damaged by radiation to the lung or by lung diseases such as tuberculosis or sarcoidosis — a noncancerous, inflammatory illness.
  • Asthma or cystic fibrosis. People with asthma and cystic fibrosis, especially those whose lung problems are long-standing or hard to control, are more likely to have an allergic response to aspergillus mold.
  • Long-term corticosteroid therapy. Long-term use of corticosteroids may increase the risk of opportunistic infections, depending on the underlying disease being treated and what other drugs are being used.
Aug. 05, 2014