Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pillows: A Hot Bed Of Fungal Spores

Date:
October 15, 2005
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
Researchers at The University of Manchester funded by the Fungal Research Trust have discovered millions of fungal spores right under our noses -- in our pillows. Aspergillus fumigatus, the species most commonly found in the pillows, is most likely to cause disease; and the resulting condition Aspergillosis has become the leading infectious cause of death in leukaemia and bone marrow transplant patients. Fungi also exacerbate asthma in adults.

The microscopic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Manchester

Researchers at The University of Manchester funded by the FungalResearch Trust have discovered millions of fungal spores right underour noses -- in our pillows.

Related Articles


Aspergillus fumigatus, the species most commonly found in thepillows, is most likely to cause disease; and the resulting conditionAspergillosis has become the leading infectious cause of death inleukaemia and bone marrow transplant patients. Fungi also exacerbateasthma in adults.

The researchers dissected both feather and synthetic samplesand identified several thousand spores of fungus per gram of usedpillow - more than a million spores per pillow.

Fungal contamination of bedding was first studied in 1936, butthere have been no reports in the last seventy years. For this newstudy, which was published online today in the scientific journalAllergy, the team studied samples from ten pillows with between 1.5 and20 years of regular use.

Each pillow was found to contain a substantial fungal load,with four to 16 different species being identified per sample and evenhigher numbers found in synthetic pillows. The microscopic fungusAspergillus fumigatus was particularly evident in synthetic pillows,and fungi as diverse as bread and vine moulds and those usually foundon damp walls and in showers were also found.

Professor Ashley Woodcock who led the research said: "We knowthat pillows are inhabited by the house dust mite which eats fungi, andone theory is that the fungi are in turn using the house dust mites'faeces as a major source of nitrogen and nutrition (along with humanskin scales). There could therefore be a 'miniature ecosystem' at workinside our pillows."

Aspergillus is a very common fungus, carried in the air as wellas being found in cellars, household plant pots, compost, computers andground pepper and spices. Invasive Aspergillosis occurs mainly in thelungs and sinuses, although it can spread to other organs such as thebrain, and is becoming increasingly common across other patient groups.It is very difficult to treat, and as many as 1 in 25 patients who diein modern European teaching hospitals have the disease.

Immuno-compromised patients such as transplantation, AIDS andsteroid treatment patients are also frequently affected withlife-threatening Aspergillus pneumonia and sinusitis. Fortunately,hospital pillows have plastic covers and so are unlikely to causeproblems, but patients being discharged home - where pillows may be oldand fungus-infected - could be at risk of infection.

Aspergillus can also worsen asthma, particularly in adults whohave had asthma for many years, and cause allergic sinusitis inpatients with allergic tendencies. Constant exposure to fungus in bedcould be problematic. It can also get into the lung cavities created bytuberculosis which affects a third of the world's population, causinggeneral ill-health and bleeding in the lung, as well as causing a rangeof plant and animal diseases.

Dr Geoffrey Scott, Chairman of the Fungal Research Trust whichfunded the study, said: "These new findings are potentially of majorsignificance to people with allergic diseases of the lungs and damagedimmune systems - especially those being sent home from hospital."

Professor Ashley Woodcock added: "Since patients spend a thirdof their life sleeping and breathing close to a potentially large andvaried source of fungi, these findings certainly have importantimplications for patients with respiratory disease - especially asthmaand sinusitis."

###

The Fungal Research Trust (www.fungalresearchtrust.org)is a registered charity which funds research into and education aboutfungal infection. It was set up in 1991 and since then has distributedin excess ofฃ1 .6m in research grants resulting in more than 80research publications in clinical and scientific aspects of fungalinfection. It also supports the Aspergillus Website which achievesaround 160,000 page requests a month. As well as being a key resourcefor clinicians, the website also devotes a section to patients andrelatives to help them understand more about the disease. It can befound at www.aspergillus.man.ac.uk.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Manchester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Pillows: A Hot Bed Of Fungal Spores." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051015093046.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2005, October 15). Pillows: A Hot Bed Of Fungal Spores. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051015093046.htm
University of Manchester. "Pillows: A Hot Bed Of Fungal Spores." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051015093046.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins