Background: Invasive aspergillosis is a well-known complication of severe influenza pneumonia with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). However, recent studies are reporting emergence of aspergillosis in severe COVID-19 pneumonia, named as COVID-19 associated aspergillosis (CAPA).
Methods: A retrospective observational study was conducted in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia from February 2020- April 2020. Patients' ≥18 years of age with clinical features and abnormal chest imaging with confirmed COVID-19 by RT-PCR for SARS-Cov-2 were included. CAPA was diagnosed based on clinical parameters, radiological findings and mycological data. Data were recorded on a structured proforma and descriptive analysis was performed using Stata ver 12.1.
Results: A total of 147 patients with confirmed COVID-19 and 23 (15.6%) patients requiring ICU admission were identified. Aspergillus species were isolated from tracheal aspirates of nine (39.1%) patients and of these five patients (21.7%) were diagnosed with CAPA and four (17.4%) had Aspergillus colonization. The mean age of patients with CAPA was 69 years (Median age: 71, IQR: 24, Range: 51 - 85) and 3/5 patients were male. The most frequent co-morbid was diabetes mellitus (4/5). The overall fatality rate of COVID-19 patients with aspergillosis was 44% (4/9). The cause of death was ARDS in all 3 patients with CAPA and the median length of stay was 16 days (IQR: 10; Range 6-35 days).
Conclusion: This study highlights the need for comparative studies to establish whether there is an association of aspergillosis and COVID-19 and the need for screening for fungal infections in severe COVID-19 patients with certain risk factors.
Keywords: COVID-19 associated aspergillosis; ICU admission; Pakistan; invasive aspergillosis; severe COVID-19.
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