Aspergillus is a species of fungus (mould). There are several different types which occur widely in the environment and are dominant indoors, which is where most of us spend 90% of our time.
These infectious particles invade and colonise vegetable matter, especially when wet and/or rotting, which then causes the organisms to grow and produce tiny filaments, or fibres, known as mycelia, and they reproduce by making tiny spores.
This fungus can cause Aspergillosis. The most-common symptom is airway inflammation. Others include localised infection involving the nails, feet, external auditory canal and eyes, etc.
Aspergillosis is one of the most-commonly-misdiagnosed aliments. A report published in the Aspergillus Website Newsletter in September 2012 revealed that it is one of the top four misdiagnosed conditions with deadly consequences.
The common symptoms of infected individuals include, but are not limited to, cough, coughing up blood or brownish mucus plugs, fever, wheezing, weight loss, blood in urine, bone pain, chest pain, chills, decreased urine output, headaches, increased phlegm production, shortness of breath, skin sores (lesions), vision problems, etc.
Out of the hundreds of known species of Aspergillus, A. fumigatus is the most-common invasive, as well as non-invasive types of Aspergillosis. The afore-mentioned species have been reported in and around indoor environments. Therefore, it is clear that Aspergillus exposure is not uncommon in residential and commercial places. It has generally been observed that dwellers with a compromised or weak immune system are more prone to acquire this infection in comparison to individuals with robust immunity.
This fungus is a ubiquitous mycoflora of the environment, although it also is reported from clinical specimens. It frequently occurs in soil, dead leaves, stored grain, breads, peanuts, dry fruits, rotting vegetables, cheese, compost piles, or in other decaying vegetation. In indoor environments, it can be transported from outside or may propagate on building materials such as cellulose rich sheet rocks etc, and can generally be isolated from floors, carpets, mattress dust, Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, etc.
This fungi can adapt to extreme conditions for its growth. However, the most-favourable growth factors include, but are not limited to, moisture above 60% and a temperature around 25ºC (this is a thermophilic fungus and some species can grow at temperatures as high as 50ºC) besides organic-rich compounds. Some species of these fungi are known to produce mycotoxins.
In order to control the spreading, potential risk of exposure, and prevention of Aspergillus-related infections it is important to ensure we are aware of the existence of these entities in our surroundings.
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