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Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Indoor survey of moulds and prevalence of mould atopy in Israel

Authors


Katz Pulmonary and Allergy Institute, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, Zerifin 70300, Israel.

Abstract

Background

Moulds are ubiquitous indoor as well as outdoor allergens and therefore potential candidates for indoor environmental control measures. However, very few studies have been performed to examine the significance of indoor moulds in allergic diseases and the effectiveness of measures to reduce the quantity of indoor moulds has not been established.

Objective

To determine the significance and the contribution of moulds to allergic manifestations.

Methods

Prevalence of allergic rhinitis and asthma in 395 members of a rural community were examined by questionnaire and examination of medical files. The atopic status in general and allergy to moulds was determined by skin-prick tests (SPTs) to a panel of aeroallergens including Aspergillus, Penicillium, Alternaria and Cladosporium. A study of indoor mould levels was performed by placing SDA plates in 59 houses. The type of fungi and the number of colonies from each species were recorded.

Results

Forty-two subjects, comprising 10.9% of the study group had positive SPT to moulds, 61.9% of those were classified as symptomatic. When taking into account individuals with a borderline positive SPT to moulds, an additional 23 had positive results. Of the 65 mould-positive subjects, 48% were symptomatic and of the 13 who were allergic to moulds alone, only two had allergic symptoms. Viable moulds were recovered from all 59 houses examined. The most common isolated genus was Aspergillus, followed by Penicillium, Alternaria and Cladosporium. Aspergillus was also the most abundant mould in houses. There was no significant correlation between the abundance of moulds, positive SPT to that mould and symptomatology.

Conclusions

Viable moulds are common in houses in temperate climates. Allergy to moulds itself has a low predictive value to development of allergic symptoms, but allergy to moulds in otherwise atopic subjects increases the risk of symptomatic allergic disease.

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