1 in 6 COVID patients on ICUs also suffered fungal infection

According to provisional figures released by an international research team, one in six patients with COVID-19 that became so ill that they were admitted to an ICU were also suffering from a fungal infection. 

Half of the patients that had the fungal infection on top of COVID-19 died. The figures suggest that between 3,750 and 4,000 COVID-19 patients in Belgium may been infected with the fugus Aspergillus. Aspergillus is believed to have worsened the symptoms of COVID-19 and affected the outcome for the patient.

Aspergillus is a type of fungi. Some species of it are used in used in commercial and medical applications. Other species are pathogenic and can cause diseases in both humans and in crops.

Aspergillosis can go unnoticed in seriously ill COVID patient as it has similar symptoms. It can only be detected by carrying out a specific test.

Leuven University Hospital’s Professor Katrien Lagrou told VRT News that “Much depends on the alertness of the attending physician”. Professor Lagrou is a specialist in fungal diseases.

Her Colleague Yves Debaveye told VRT News “We used to rarely look for fungal infections. Often the diagnosis was only made after the patient’s death, at an autopsy. Fortunately, that has improved in recent years.”


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