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Your dishwasher could be harboring dangerous 'super' fungi, says report

Thursday, June 23, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: fungi, dishwashers, health news

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(NaturalNews) In many ways, modern home appliances have made life simpler by reducing the amount of time it takes to clean, cook, and perform other routine household activities. But some of these technological advances may be responsible for increasing the prevalence of harmful "super" pathogens that have grown resistant to stimuli that used to eliminate them, suggests a new report in the British Mycological Society journal Fungal Biology.

According to the report, household appliances that use water, which include dishwashers and washing machines, have become a new point of infestation for potentially deadly fungi like Exophiala dermatitidis and E. phaeomuriformis. These strains and others, which would normally be killed off by heat and detergents, have become tolerant to them, and are now being found in a majority of the household appliances tested.

Researchers from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia gathered samples from the dishwashers, washing machines, and coffee makers of private homes located in 101 cities from six different continents. Upon analysis, they determined that 62 percent of dishwashers contained pathogenic fungal flora in their rubber band door lining. Fifty-six percent contained polyextremotolerant black yeasts that had developed resistance to the high heat, high salt concentrations, aggressive detergents, and both acid and alkaline water, all of which would kill normal varieties of such strains.

According to the report, Exophiala dermatitidis almost never occurs isolated from nature, and yet it is now showing up in household appliances everywhere. It is linked to pulmonary colonization of patients with cystic fibrosis, and it can sometimes cause fatal infections, even in healthy humans. It can also cause lesions, heart inflammation and brain abscesses.

"Both Exophiala species are known to be able to cause systemic disease in humans and frequently colonize the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis," write the authors in their report. "We conclude that high temperature, high moisture and alkaline pH values typically occurring in dishwashers can provide an alternative habitat for species also known to be pathogenic to humans."

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