Background: Patients with severe viral pneumonia are likely to receive high-dose immunomodulatory drugs to prevent clinical worsening. Aspergillus species have been described as frequent secondary pneumonia agents in severely ill influenza patients receiving steroids. COVID-19 patients admitted to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) are receiving steroids as part of their treatment and they share clinical characteristics with other patients with severe viral pneumonias. COVID-19 patients receiving steroids should be considered a putative risk group of invasive aspergillosis.
Case report: We are reporting a SARS-CoV-2/Aspergillus section Fumigati coinfection in an elderly intubated patient with a history of pulmonary embolism treated with corticosteroids. The diagnosis was made following the ad hoc definitions described for patients admitted to ICU with severe influenza, including clinical criteria (fever for 3 days refractory to the appropriate antibiotic therapy, dyspnea, pleural friction rub, worsening of respiratory status despite antibiotic therapy and need of ventilator support), a radiological criterion (pulmonary infiltrate) and a mycological criterion (several positive galactomannan tests on serum with ratio ≥0.5). In addition, Aspergillus section Fumigati DNA was found in serum and blood samples. These tests were positive 4 weeks after the patient was admitted to the ICU. The patient received voriconazole and after two month in ICU his respiratory status improved; he was discharged after 6 weeks of antifungal treatment.
Conclusions: Severely ill COVID-19 patients would be considered a new aspergillosis risk group. Galactomannan and Aspergillus DNA detection would be useful methods for Aspergillus infection diagnosis as they allow avoiding the biosafety issues related to these patients.