Aspergillus is a fungus that is always present in the air. During the course of your child’s treatment her immune system may not always work well. At these times, pneumonia or a sinus infection can result from breathing Aspergillus or other fungal particles that are in the air. The pneumonia caused by Aspergillus or other fungi is serious, and current treatments do not work as well as we would like.
At St. Jude, we use high efficiency filters and frequent cleaning to lower the number of fungal germs in the hospital air. Lowering the number of Aspergillus and other fungal particles in the air reduces your child’s risk for infection. Follow these guidelines at home to help protect your child from infection:
- Prevent the build-up of dust on surfaces. When dusting, try to prevent the dust from flying in the air. For effective cleaning on most surfaces, use a cloth dampened with a disinfectant such as Lysol®. On wood surfaces, a product such as Endust® or Pledge® will help keep dust from flying into the air.
- Reduce your child’s exposure to dust. Try to avoid having your child exposed to dust in the air as you are cleaning by removing her from the area being cleaned.
- Maintain a clean air conditioner/furnace filter. Inspect your furnace filter once a month. When it is dirty, replace it. Electrostatic filters do not provide added protection against airborne fungus.
- Provide an air cleaner. You may want to use a room air cleaner that contains a HEPA filter to help clean the air in the room where your child spends the most time. You can buy one of these portable air cleaners at most department and discount stores.
- Keep the carpet clean. Vaccum often. Vacuum cleaners that contain HEPA filters work best. You might want to remove carpet that has become badly soiled. Wet cleaning is not good for lowering the presence of fungal spores such as Aspergillus.
- Remove visible mold. Mold (or “mildew”) that forms on shower walls, shower curtains, and bathtub grout should be removed promptly.
- Avoid dusty areas outdoors. Avoid construction areas and dirt or gravel roads because of airborne dust that contains Aspergillus or other fungal particles. Prevent your child from getting in close contact with soil, such as digging, yard work, and gardening. If you as caregiver work in a dusty environment such as construction or farming, remember to shower and change dust-covered clothes before getting close to your child.
- Wear a mask. St. Jude can provide masks that, when worn properly, are very good for filtering Aspergillus and other fungal particles out of the air. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if your child should wear the mask and give you a handout that shows how to use it. (See “Do you know… How to use an N-95 mask.”)
- Before you visit St. Jude or come with your child to St. Jude appointments, the staff might remind you about the risk of dust on your clothing that could contain fungus and to change your clothing.
If you have questions about Aspergillus or other fungal infections, please ask your doctor or nurse.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).
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