COVID-19 and invasive fungal coinfections: A case series at a Brazilian referral hospital

J Mycol Med. 2021 Dec;31(4):101175. doi: 10.1016/j.mycmed.2021.101175. Epub 2021 Jul 14.


Background: COVID-19 co-infections have been described with different pathogens, including filamentous and yeast fungi.

Methodology: A retrospective case series study conducted from February to December 2020, at a Brazilian university hospital. Data were collected from two hospital surveillance systems: Invasive fungal infection (IFI) surveillance (Mycosis Resistance Program - MIRE) and COVID-19 surveillance. Data from both surveillance systems were cross-checked to identify individuals diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 (by positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR)) and IFI during hospital stays within the study period.

Results: During the study period, 716 inpatients with COVID-19 and 55 cases of IFI were identified. Fungal co-infection with SARS-CoV-2 was observed in eight (1%) patients: three cases of aspergillosis; four candidemia and one cryptococcosis. The median age of patients was 66 years (IQR 58-71 years; range of 28-77 years) and 62.5% were men. Diagnosis of IFI occurred a median of 11.5 days (IQR 4.5-23 days) after admission and 11 days (IQR 6.5-16 days) after a positive PCR result for SARS-CoV-2. In 75% of cases, IFI was diagnosed in the intensive care unit (ICU). Cases of aspergillosis emerged earlier than those of candidemia: an average of 8.6 and 28.6 days after a positive PCR for SARS-CoV-2, respectively. All the patients with both infections ultimately died.

Conclusion: A low rate of COVID-19 co-infection with IFI was observed, with high mortality. Most cases were diagnosed in ICU patients. Aspergillosis diagnosis is highly complex in this context and requires different criteria.

Keywords: Aspergillosis; COVID-19; Candidemia; Cryptococcosis; Invasive fungal infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aspergillosis* / epidemiology
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Candidemia* / epidemiology
  • Coinfection* / epidemiology
  • Cryptococcosis* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fungi
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies