Floods have inundated the United States. Next health problem: mold

There is a long history of natural disasters that make people sick. Reports begin with the occurrence of Valley Fever after the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California. Coccidia Bacteria in the air, Aspergillus infection caused by the aspiring bacterial waters of the 2011 Japanese Tsunami for people infected and killed by fungi carrying debris from Joplin, Missouri, tornadoes in 2011.

But it can be difficult to identify if an infection or reaction is specifically related to mold, as the victims of the disaster are exposed to many substances. “After this flood or hurricane, a lot is going on: you’re not just working on a house full of molds, you’re separating that house, so drywall and dust and plaster and all sorts of things that you can ‘re-breathe,'” “It’s hard to tease the effects of mold,” said Tom Chiller, a physician and head of the mycotic disease branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers thus face a dilemma: their clinical instincts tell them that people are at risk, but they lack the data to prove it. Immune-compromised people are always at risk for mold and fungal infections; Their eroded defenses make them unable to clean the fungal spores that we all breathe every day, making them vulnerable to organisms such as Aspergillus and the violent mutant yeast. Candida auris. The CDC estimates that more than 75,000 people are hospitalized annually for invasive fungal infections and that the healthcare system costs about 4. 4.5 billion a year.

The most at risk are transplant patients who have received donor organs or have been treated for leukemia, and are taking immune-suppressing drugs to maintain their health. Researchers say those people should not have molds anywhere near their homes, let alone work on repairs, and stay away from floodwaters. But in a survey of 103 immunosuppressed patients conducted after Hurricane Harvey, the CDC and several hospitals in Houston admitted half of them that they went back to clean their flooded homes and only two-fifths of those half said they wore a protective respirator.

In a post-Hardy complex project, the CDC is working on some of those hospitals that have not yet been published, reviewing medical records a year before and after the hurricane to determine if immune-suppressed individuals have infected storm-related invasive fungi. Mitsuro Toda, an epidemiologist in the agency’s Mycotic Diseases branch, said there was no clear indication in the data: “Overall, we have seen an increase in the number of people infected with invasive mold infections after Hurricane Harvey, but fewer hospitals, fewer hospitals, and fewer.

Complicating this finding, he adds, the incubation period for some mold and fungal infections is long enough that they may not show symptoms in post-storm years. Plus, Toda says, some physicians in Houston told the agency that they put their most immune-suppressing patients on antifungal drugs যা which protected those patients, but would mislead any calculation of the hurricane’s impact on their health.

Ostroski-Zechner was one of those doctors. “Theoretically, we should see the number of mold infections after major flood events and hurricanes, but we don’t see that yet,” he says.

Researchers are also concerned about a much larger proportion of the population, estimated at up to 40 percent, who are prone to allergies and may react to mold and fungus growth in their homes – as well as the rest of the population, developing new allergies after exposure. “For most people, the health effects we often see are respiratory,” said Felenia Rabito, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “A strong reaction will be like shortness of breath; A less severe reaction would be allergy-type symptoms. If you are an asthma sufferer, and the mold is a trigger, you can trigger an asthma attack, which is a very deadly reaction. ”

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