Risk factors

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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