A New Era of Fungal Infections

ATS issues new official clinical practice guidelines for treating pulmonary fungal infections

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The incidence of pulmonary fungal infections is on the rise. In response, the American Thoracic Society (ATS) has issued a new clinical policy statement, replacing guidelines published in 1988, for the treatment of such infections.

Pulmonary fungal infections are increasingly common mainly due to growing numbers in the population at risk. These infections frequently occur in those with compromised immune systems. As the number of pulmonary fungal infections has grown, so too have diagnostic and treatment methods grown. Consequently, ATS saw the apparent need for new official clinical guidelines.

The statement, which appears in the the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, updates the previous guidelines by taking into account the increasing prevalence of compromised immune systems. According to Andrew Limper, M.D., Professor and Chair of Pulmonary Medicine at Mayo Clinic and Chair of the ATS Fungal Infections Working Group, the number of immune-compromised patients is on the rise because of a variety of components, particularly two: the pervasiveness of HIV and other diseases in addition to new immune-suppressing medications and treatments for patients of organ transplant or autoimmune inflammatory conditions.

The ATS document offers guidance on diagnosing and treating many fungal infections such as histoplasmosis ("cave disease"), coccidioidomycosis ("valley fever" or "California disease"), cryptococcal, and rare and emerging fungi among others. As many of these fungal infections arise as secondary conditions to other health treatments and procedures, the new guideline will help doctors prepare and effectively treat their patients.

Since 1988, the treatment of fungal infections has been dramatically refined, says Dr. Limper. The new guidelines provide updated and relevant treatment options that will improve the quality of care for the many immune-compromised patients in the United States.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 6, 2011
Last Updated:
January 7, 2011