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J Hosp Infect. 2006 Jul;63(3):246-54. Epub 2006 May 18.

Nosocomial aspergillosis in outbreak settings.

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Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology, Medical School Hannover, Germany.


Nosocomial aspergillosis represents a serious threat for severely immunocompromised patients and numerous outbreaks of invasive aspergillosis have been described. This systematic review summarizes characteristics and mortality rates of infected patients, distribution of Aspergillus spp. in clinical specimens, concentrations of aspergillus spores in volumetric air samples, and outbreak sources. A web-based register of nosocomial epidemics (outbreak database), PubMed and reference lists of relevant articles were searched systematically for descriptions of aspergillus outbreaks in hospital settings. Fifty-three studies with a total of 458 patients were included. In 356 patients, the lower respiratory tract was the primary site of aspergillus infection. Species identified most often were Aspergillus fumigatus (154 patients) and Aspergillus flavus (101 patients). Haematological malignancies were the predominant underlying diseases (299 individuals). The overall fatality rate in these 299 patients (57.6%) was significantly greater than that in patients without severe immunodeficiency (39.4% of 38 individuals). Construction or demolition work was often (49.1%) considered to be the probable or possible source of the outbreak. Even concentrations of Aspergillus spp. below 1 colony-forming unit/m(3) were sufficient to cause infection in high-risk patients. Virtually all outbreaks of nosocomial aspergillosis are attributed to airborne sources, usually construction. Even small concentrations of spores have been associated with outbreaks, mainly due to A. fumigatus or A. flavus. Patients at risk should not be exposed to aspergilli.

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