Fusarium species are ubiquitous and may be found in the soil, air and on plants. Fusarium species can cause mycotoxicosis in humans following ingestion of food that has been colonized by the fungal organism. In humans, Fusarium species can also cause disease that is localized, focally invasive or disseminated. The pathogen generally affects immunocompromised individuals with infection of immunocompetent persons being rarely reported. Localized infection includes septic arthritis, endophthalmitis, osteomyelitis, cystitis and brain abscess. In these situations relatively good response may be expected following appropriate surgery and oral antifungal therapy. Disseminated infection occurs when two or more noncontiguous sites are involved. Over eighty cases have been reported, many of which had a hematologic malignancy including neutropenia. The species most commonly involved include Fusarium solani, Fusarium oxysporum, and Fusarium moniliforme (also termed F. verticillioides). The diagnosis of Fusarium infection may be made on histopathology, gram stain, mycology, blood culture, or serology. Portals of entry of disseminated infection include the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, and cutaneous sites.
The skin can be an important and an early clue to diagnosis since cutaneous lesions may be observed at an early stage of the disease and in about seventy-five cases of disseminated Fusarium infection. Typical skin lesions may be painful red or violaceous nodules, the center of which often becomes ulcerated and covered by a black eschar. The multiple necrotizing lesions are often observed on the trunk and the extremities. Onychomycosis most commonly due to F. oxysporum or F. solani has been reported. The onychomycosis may be of several types: distal and lateral subungual (DLSO), white superficial (WSO), and proximal subungual (PSO). In proximal subungual onychomycosis there may be associated leukonychia and/or periungual inflammation. Patients with Fusarium onychomycosis have been cured following therapy with itraconazole, terbinafine, ciclopirox olamine lacquer, or topical antifungal agent. In other instances nail avulsion plus antifungal therapy has been successful. In patients with hematologic malignancy or bone marrow transplant, who may experience prolonged or severe neutropenia during the course of therapy, the skin and nails should be carefully examined and consideration given to treating potential infection sites that may serve as portals for systemic dissemination. When disseminated Fusarium infection is present therapy with antifungal agents has generally been disappointing with the chances of a successful resolution being enhanced if the neutropenia can be corrected in a timely manner.
If symptoms are severe or unusually persistent, your doctor should probably test you to find out exactly what’s causing the trouble. The real culprit might not be ragweed at all, but another environmental allergen or even certain foods, such as chamomile and banana.
Two allergy tests are widely used:
- A blood test checks for the presence of antibodies to ragweed. It’s reliably accurate, but takes up to two weeks to get results.
- A skin-prick test is fast, but can yield a false negative result if you are taking an antihistamine. Minute quantities of various substances are injected into the skin. If a wheal forms that’s larger than the control substance, the test skin prick is considered positive.
The ultimate weapon against ragweed allergy (and allergies in general) is immunotherapy. In this tried-and-true therapy — effective in about 85% of allergic rhinitis sufferers — the patient receives a series of injections of the allergy-causing agent until the body no longer mounts an immune response. The injections are typically given for several months before determining responsiveness to treatments
In recent years, American doctors — following the lead of their counterparts in Europe — have begun treating ragweed allergy sufferers with sublingual immunotherapy instead of allergy shots. Drops of liquid are placed under the tongue. Sublingual immunotherapy can be more convenient than traditional immunotherapy — no need to come in for shots — and it takes less time. Results are often seen within weeks or months.
Taking air samples during a mold inspection is important for several reasons. Mold spores are not visible to the naked eye, and the types of mold present can often be determined through laboratory analysis of the air samples. Having samples analyzed can also help provide evidence of the scope and severity of a mold problem, as well as aid in assessing human exposure to mold spores. After remediation, new samples are typically taken to help ensure that all mold has been successfully removed. Air samples can be used to gather data about mold spores present in the interior of a house. These samples are taken by using a pump that forces air through a collection device which catches mold spores. The sample is then sent off to a laboratory to be analyzed.
There are several types of devices used to collect air samples that can be analyzed for mold. Some common examples include:
- Impaction samplers that use a calibrated air pump to impact spores onto a prepared microscope slide;
- Cassette samplers, which may be of the disposable or one-time-use type, and also employ forced air to impact spores onto a collection media; and
- Airborne-particle collectors that trap spores directly on a culture dish. These may be utilized to identify the species of mold that has been found.
An air sample alone is not enough to confirm or refute the existence of a problem, and such testing needs to be accompanied by visual inspection and other methods of data collection, such as a surface sample. Indoor airborne spore levels can vary according to several factors, and this can lead to skewed results if care is not taken to set up the sampling correctly. Also, since only spores are collected with an air sample and may actually be damaged during collection, identification of the mold type can be more difficult than with a sample collected with tape or a cultured sample. Air samples are good for use as a background screen to ensure that there isn’t a large source of mold not yet found somewhere in a home. This is because they can detect long chains of spores that are still intact. These chains normally break apart quickly as they travel through the air, so a sample that reveals intact chains can indicate that there is mold nearby, possibly undiscovered during other tests and visual examination.
In summary, when taken under controlled conditions and properly analyzed, air samples for mold are helpful in comparing relative particle levels between a problem and a control area. They can also be crucial for comparing particle levels and air quality in an area before and after mold remediation.
October may still be warm enough to have your windows open, but it’s already time begin thinking about the cold weather ahead. Early fall is a great time toinstall storm windows and reap the benefits of lower heating costs this winter.
In colder climates, storm windows on single pane glass can reduce heat loss through the window by 25% to 50% and lower your heating costs by as much as 13%! And the savings jump to 20% if the storm windows have a low-E coating.
If your home already has storm windows, this is a great time to clean and close them. Removable screens can be taken down, scrubbed, and put away until spring. While it’s not necessary to remove screens in winter, the added light can help brighten up your house on dark winter days.
If storm windows aren’t an option for you, an alternative is to seal out cold drafts using plastic window insulation kits. These are applied over the inside of the window with self-adhesive tape. A warm hair blower is then used to heat and shrink the plastic to make it tight and nearly invisible.
For more information, visit our website at Biowashing.com
Most allergic responses to mold involve hay fever-type symptoms that can make you miserable, but aren’t serious. However, certain allergic conditions caused by mold are more severe. These include:
- Mold-induced asthma. In people allergic to mold, breathing in spores can trigger an asthma flare-up. If you have a mold allergy and asthma, be sure you have an emergency plan in place in case of a severe asthma attack.
- Allergic fungal sinusitis. This results from an inflammatory reaction to fungus in the sinuses.
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. This reaction to fungus in the lungs can occur in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis.
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This rare condition occurs when exposure to airborne particles such as mold spores cause the lungs to become inflamed. It may be triggered by exposure to allergy-causing dust at work.
Besides allergens, mold may pose other health risks to susceptible people. For example, mold may cause infections of the skin or mucus membranes. Generally, however, mold doesn’t cause systemic infections except for people with impaired immune systems, such as those who have HIV/AIDS or who are taking immuno-suppressant medication. Exposure to mold may also irritate eyes, skin, nose and throat in some people. Other possible mold reactions are the subject of ongoing research.
A number of factors can make you more likely to develop a mold allergy, or worsen your existing mold allergy symptoms, including:
- Having a family history of allergies. If allergies and asthma run in your family, you’re more likely to develop a mold allergy.
- Working in an occupation that exposes you to mold.Occupations where mold exposure may be high include farming, dairy work, logging, baking, millwork, carpentry, greenhouse work, winemaking and furniture repair.
- Living in a house with high humidity. If your indoor humidity is higher than 60 percent, you may have increased exposure to mold in your home. Mold can grow virtually anywhere if the conditions are right — in basements, behind walls in framing, on soap-coated grout and other damp surfaces, in carpet pads, and in the carpet itself. Exposure to high levels of household mold may trigger mold allergy symptoms.
- Working or living in a building that’s been exposed to excess moisture. Examples include leaky pipes, water seepage during rainstorms and flood damage. At some point, nearly every building has some kind of excessive moisture. This moisture can allow mold to flourish.
- Living in a house with poor ventilation. Tight window and door seals may trap moisture indoors and prevent proper ventilation, creating ideal conditions for mold growth. Damp areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements, are most vulnerable.
Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant and animal matter. Molds can be found almost anywhere when moisture is present. Molds create tiny spores to reproduce, just as plants produce seeds. Mold spores float through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on damp places indoors, they may begin growing. For people sensitive to molds, inhaling mold spores can trigger an asthma attack.
Actions You Can Take:
- If mold is a problem in your home, you need to clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Contact a Certified and Insured Remediation Contractor
- Use exhaust fans or open a window in the bathroom and kitchen when showering, cooking or washing dishes.
- Fix water leaks as soon as possible to keep mold from growing.
- Dry damp or wet things completely within one to two days to keep mold from growing.
- Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity. Humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers, which are available at local hardware stores.
For more information, visit our website at Biowashing.com
Check Back for Part 4
Late summer and fall is the season for weed allergies, with pollen levels usually peaking in mid-September. Pollen counts for weeds are at their highest in the morning, usually between 5 and 10 a.m. Weed pollens are the most prolific allergens of all. A single ragweed plant, for instance, can produce a billion pollen grains in a single season. Not only that, but wind-carried grains may travel for hundreds of miles. Weeds responsible for the most allergies include:
- English plantain
- Lamb’s Quarters,
- Ragweed (which affects nearly one in five Americans)
- Redroot Pigweed
- Tumbleweed (Russian thistle)
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