Homes Assessed As a Result of Physician Referral Have Higher Fungal Burden
Saturday, March 5, 2016
South Exhibit Hall H (Convention Center)
Jill R. Hanson, MD, Charles S. Barnes, PhD FAAAAI, Jay M. Portnoy, MD FAAAAI
Rationale: Exposures in the home environment can play a significant role in health, prompting physicians to obtain an environmental history. We hypothesized that homes assessed following physician referral would have higher fungal counts.   

Methods: Air samples were obtained from homes assessed after physician referral. A control group consisted of samples obtained from homes of healthy children. Samples were obtained using a Biostage collector operating at 15L/minute for 10 minutes. Mold inhibitory agar (Remel Labs; Lenexa, KS) was utilized for media. The mean number of viable fungal colonies per cubic meter of air was compared between the groups utilizing independent sample t-tests.

Results: The mean number of total viable fungal colonies in the referral group was significantly higher than the control group (536.40 vs. 268.11; p=0.0001). Prominent mold species in both groups were Alternaria, Cladosporium and Penicillium. A higher mean number of colonies was seen in the referral group for Penicillium (132.67 vs. 36.34; p=0.0005). There was no difference between the two groups in regard to Alternaria or Cladosporium. There was a significant difference in the presence of Aspergillus, with the referral group having a higher mean number of colonies (85.91 vs. 6.44; p=0.003). Nineteen individual species of mold were identified in the referral group, as compared to 9 species in the control group.  

Conclusions: Patients referred by a physician for an environmental assessment resided in homes with a higher mean number of viable fungal colonies. This is of uncertain clinical significance, with future studies needed.