Up to 14 000 people suffer from serious fungal infection each year in the UK according to a new report published today.

Scientists believe this is the first attempt at a comprehensive estimation of the burden of invasive fungal infection in the UK, and are calling for improved diagnostic testing and laboratory reporting.

Fungal allergy complicating asthma and cystic fibrosis is estimated to affect up to 180,000 people, and is troublesome to diagnose and treat.

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Fungal Infection Trust

Invasive fungal disease may be increasing due to a variety of factors including greater survival time from previously fatal illnesses, and more people with lower immune system from disease or treatments. Understanding of the overall burden of invasive fungal disease in the UK is limited.

Currently there is voluntary surveillance of candida bloodstream infection in England, which shows little change in numbers over the last seven years. Laboratory data suggests a rising frequency of Pneumocystis pneumonia.

Professor David Denning, Director of the NHS National Aspergillosis Centre and Scientific Advisor to the Fungal Infection Trust explains: “The substantial number of British people affected by fungal disease, which may be fatal, is greatly under-appreciated due to lack of public health systems to capture most of the data. While not glamorous, the toll of fungal disease in the UK and the world is much greater than appreciated and substantially greater than many diseases, which receive a major public health response. Antifungal resistance is also problematic.

Professor Denning added ‘This modelling exercise requires confirmation by careful epidemiological study. As serious fungal is rarely spread from person to person, and there are issues with laboratory diagnosis, understanding of the burden of disease from fungal infection is limited and awareness is low. ’

For more information contact Susan Osborne, Director of Communications, The Goodwork Organisation on 07836 229208.


Notes for Editors

The UK population in 2011 was 62,417,000 with 17% under the age of 15 and 23% over the age of 60 years.

The following burden estimates were calculated: invasive candidiasis (IC) 4,700; Candida peritonitis complicating CAPD 88 and the remainder captured under IC; Pneumocystis pneumonia 587 cases, invasive aspergillosis (IA), excluding critical care patients 818 to 882, and IA in critical care 359 to 8,120 patients, utilizing different external assumptions, < 100 cryptococcal meningitis cases. With respect to allergic aspergillosis, 178,000 (50,000–250,000) ABPA cases in asthma and 873 adults and 278 children with cystic fibrosis. Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis is estimated to affect 3,600 patients, based on burden estimates post TB and in sarcoidosis.

Prior HPA 2002 report: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/hpawebfile/hpaweb_c/1196942156347

The Fungal Infection Trust (www.fungalinfectiontrust.org) Is a UK Company limited by Guarantee approved as a charity by the Charity Commissioners. Since 1991, the Fungal Infection Trust (FIT) has made a unique contribution to advancing the science and medicine of fungal diseases. It has

  • Donated over £3,750,000 to research and education, primarily in the UK, with <5% internal costs.
  • It supports The Aspergillus Website, the world’s most dynamic, encyclopedic and interactive portal for all aspects of the organism and diseases it produces.
  • Its focus on building one centre of excellence in fungal disease was recognised in 2009 by creation of the NHS National Aspergillosis Centre in Manchester.
  • It has supported the training of over 25 researchers and practitioners and the publication of over 180 research reports on fungi and disease.
  • It has supported LIFE (Leading International Fungal Education), which provides a global accessible resource for health professionals on all fungi, and the UK’s first student art competition focused on fungi and fungal disease.
  • Over recent years there has been an increasing focus on supporting patients and carers with fungal infection, partly through the Patients Website, its associated online community and partly through the National Aspergillosis Centre patient meetings.

The National Aspergillosis Centre (www.nationalaspergillosiscentre.org.uk) is the UK’s referral clinic for patients with chronic pulmonary aspergillosis and related conditions. It was established 5 years ago and is housed at the University Hospital of South Manchester and funded through the National Health Service Specialised Services. The Aspergillus Website (www.aspergillus.org.uk) was set up in 1998 by the Fungal Infection Trust. It is the most comprehensive source of information about Aspergillus and the diseases it causes available on the Internet. An estimated 75,000 distinct IP addresses log on monthly and over 200,000 other websites link to the Aspergillus Website. Well over 70% of users in any month are new visitors from over 125 countries. Over 1000 patients are currently registered with the support discussion group on Yahoo! with another 150 on Facebook with 280 LinkedIn members (Aspergillus and Aspergillosis Group).

LIFE is the international health professional education brainchild of the Fungal Infection TrustLIFE’s goal is to improve the health of patients suffering from serious fungal nfections primarily through health professional education and increased awareness internationally (www.LIFE-Worldwide.org). Summary information on fungi, fungal diseases, diagnostic tests and treatments are provided free in English and in Spanish.


  1. Public Health England (PHE). Voluntary surveillance of candidaemia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland: 2012. HPA, 2013.
  2. http://www.neonin.org.uk/index
  3. Maini R, Henderson KL, Sheridan EA, Lamagni T, Nichols G, Delpech V, et al. Increasing Pneumocystis pneumonia, England, UK, 2000–2010. Emerg Infect Dis 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1903.121151