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Keywords:

  • Aspergillosis;
  • Aspergillus;
  • candidiasis;
  • epidemiology;
  • fungal infections

Summary

Invasive fungal diseases (IFDs) are an increasingly common complication in critically ill patients in Europe and are frequently fatal. Because of changes in treatment strategies and the increased use of antifungal prophylaxis, the epidemiology of IFDs has changed substantially in recent years and infections due to Candida species are no longer the majority in many institutions. In contrast, the emergence of non-Candida IFDs such as aspergillosis, zygomycosis and fusariosis has increased. European surveys indicate that Candida albicans is responsible for more than half the cases of invasive candidaemia; however, the occurrence of non-albicans-related IFDs appears to be increasing. Rates of IFD-related mortality in Europe depend on the pathogen, geographical location and underlying patient characteristics, with rates ranging from 28 to 59% for Candida infections and from 38 to 80% for invasive aspergillosis. Early initiation of antifungal therapy is critical for improving outcomes; however, this is complicated by the difficulty in diagnosing IFDs rapidly and accurately. The introduction of new extended-spectrum azole antifungal agents (e.g. voriconazole, posaconazole) and echinocandins (e.g. micafungin, caspofungin, anidulafungin) has increased the number of therapeutic options for early therapy. Choice between agents should be based on a variety of factors, including spectrum of activity, adverse events, drug interactions, route of administration, clinical efficacy of individual agents and local epidemiology.