Eye-threatening disease "present in plumbing drains"

Eye-threatening disease "present in plumbing drains"

By Adrian Galbreth

A new report examining the prevalence of the fungus Fusarium in bathroom sink drains suggests that plumbing systems may be a common source of eye human infections.

Researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences sampled nearly 500 sink drains from 131 buildings including businesses, homes, university dormitories and public facilities and analysed fungal DNA to compare the spectrum of Fusarium species and sequence types found in drains with those recovered from human infections.

The result was that there was at least one Fusarium isolate in 66 per cent of the drains and in 82 per cent of the buildings, while around 70 per cent of those isolates came from the six sequence types of Fusarium most frequently associated with human infections.

Lead investigator Dylan Short, who recently completed his doctorate in plant pathology at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, said around two-thirds of sinks were found to harbor Fusarium.

"It is clear that those buildings' inhabitants are exposed to these fungi on a regular basis. This strongly supports the hypothesis that plumbing-surface biofilms serve as reservoirs for human pathogenic fusaria," he added.

by Adrian Galbreth

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