Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Killer whale falls victim to aspergillosis

A killer whale (in captivity) undergoing rehabilitation after suffering severe weight loss and anorexia was treated with anti herpes - virus drugs as it was diagnosed with a herpes infection. It showed considerable improvement but then sudden anorexia reappeared and the whale died. When examined under postmortem the lungs and skeletal and cardiac muscle showed necrotic areas. More detailed microscopic findings showed widespread fungal granulomas in both skeletal and cardiac muscles, also myocarditis was observed and cardiac blood vessels had fungal related embolism. The whale also had bronchopneumonia with the presence of Aspergillus-like fungi.

 PAS, GMS and silver staining confirmed mucor like structures in the heart muscle and Aspergillus in the lungs. It appears that the whale had a dual infection of Mucor and Aspergillus sp whilst suffering from herpesvirus. Mycoses in marine mammals are rare but Aspergillus fumigatus and more rarely A.niger and A.terreus are the best known causes of fungal pneumonia in marine mammals. Sadly in this case the initial infection with herpesvirus has led to a widespread infection with mucor and Aspergillus sp, affecting the heart muscle and leading to the animal's death. View article

Friday, 10 August 2012

Newsbite: New Generic Version of Itraconazole Launched

The antifungal drug itraconazole was originally marketed as Sporanox by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and has been very useful in clinics for its activity against Aspergillus as well as several other fungal infections. Janssens copyright expired some time ago, allowing other companies to manufacture their own versions of itraconazole. The latest company to do so and to be granted FDA approval in the US is Mylan.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Childhood Asthma Linked to Mould

This study chose 289 new borne children who have at least one parent that reacts strongly to a panel of allergens commonly found in the air (meadow fescue, timothy, white oak, maple, American elm,
red cedar, short ragweed, Alternaria species, Aspergillus fumigatus, Penicillium species, Cladosporium species, cat, dog, German cockroach, and house dust mite).

Such children can be defined as high risk for developing allergy and asthma.

The researchers then collected and examined dust samples collected using a standardised protocol when the children were aged 8 months.

Host, environmental exposure, and home characteristics were evaluated included a history of parental asthma, race, sex, upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms, season of birth, family income, cigarette smoke exposure, air conditioning, use of a dehumidi´Čüer, presence of carpeting, age of home, and visible mold at age 1 year and child’s positive skin prick test response to aeroallergens and molds at age 7 years.

Each child was medically examined at age 7 for asthma based on patient reported symptoms and objective measurements of lung function.

Asthma was diagnosed in 24% of the children examined at age 7 and this diagnosis was positively correlated with the presence of only 3 mould species: Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis and Penicillium variabile. All 3 species are far more common in homes damaged by moisture compared with dry homes.

Interestingly only 12% of the asthmatic children gave a positive test to mould allergens in the skin prick test, suggesting that the test is not detecting all those it should (allergens for these 3 species are not included in commercial testing kits as standard) or moulds are involved in increasing the incidence of asthma via a non-allergic mechanism.

The findings of this paper support the increasing body of evidence that suggests that moulds and damp homes have a role in increasing the incidence of childhood asthma.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Cleaning a Domestic Property That Has Become Mouldy

Definitely a case for a professional to clean up!
Some homes become mouldy and it can have a variety of causes ranging from accidental flooding to lack of good management of moisture in the home by the occupant - a typical example is the drying of laundry inside a home with insufficient ventilation to clear the moist air.

Prevention of damp is better than cleaning up afterwards particularly where mould is concerned as it is known to have a detrimental effect on human health, children and adults and particularly those with asthma and severe asthma. The reason for this is suspected to be partly due to increased amounts of allergens in the air that occupants of the house breathe in and there is accumulating evidence that fungi may start to establish themselves in the lungs and sinuses of some occupants causing asthma to become more severe (SAFS), causing sinusitus and sensitising occupants to allergies.

The World Health Organisation have released guidelines for the domestic user to help reduce damp and have released an extensive multifaceted report on dampness, moulds and its effect on human health entitled WHO guidelines for indoor air quality : dampness and mould.

Sufficient information has been gathered and we can conclude that dampness in the home is BAD for human health! We cannot yet pin down specific culprits with much confidence but there is a lengthy list of possible hazards detectable in a damp home and moulds are prominent on that list. There is also a strong suggestion that once damp has been eliminated & moulds cleaned up the danger to health is reduced - so the way forward is clear - dry out and remove moulds.

The first steps of any householder or landlord who has found damp or moulds in a home must be to find and eliminate the cause of damp - a process that may involve professional help to stop leaks or water penetration  (in the UK competent professionals can be located via ISSE) as unless this happens no amount of cleaning will prevent further microbial growth.

Once stopped and dried out the next step is to remove microbial growth. If the growth is extensive or porous materials such as plasterboard have become infected then professional help may well be needed to remove mouldy parts of the building. Importantly if there is a person in the house who is sensitive to fungi, allergic, asthmatic or has an immune system that is not fully functioning (e.g. diabetic, immunodeficient, undergoing treatment for some cancers, very young or old) then they should not attempt to clean moulds or other microbes from their homes without medical advice.

If the growth is limited in size (i.e. less than 1square metre) it can be possible for the householder to effectively clean the mouldy areas and the disinfectants often used are based on sodium hypochlorite (commonly referred to as bleach). We have written a set of guidelines for the effective use of bleach as there are pitfalls to avoid - besides being an excellent disinfectant bleach is a caustic substance and has to be handled with care for best results.

Cleaning a domestic property that has become mouldy

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