Stachybotrys: relevance to human disease

Terr AI. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. December, 2001; 87(6 suppl 3):57-63. (Review)

Purpose: The author examined and critiqued the published literature on Stachybotrys.

Design: Review.

The author provided a systematic review of the literature addressing alleged Stachybotrys-induced illness. Several myths surrounding Stachybotrys were dispelled by the author, who explained that evidence on ingestion in animals could not be extrapolated to possible inhalation in humans. Terr discussed the literature that has focused on the pulmonary hemorrhage cases in Cleveland, citing two panels commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") that found serious flaws in Dearborn's original publication. Terr reiterated several points made by the CDC panels, i.e., that there were uncontrolled differences between the case and control homes and there was no standardization for sampling methods. Terr also critiqued the various articles that have sought to establish a link between potential health problems and water intrusion. The author emphasized that several studies have used laboratory blood tests to screen for reactions to mold rather than testing for specific diseases in the building occupants. This hunt for a biomarker, coupled with the poor diagnostic definition of cases, left Terr to conclude that the evidence supporting a link between inhalation of Stachybotrys and building-related illness is not compelling.

Significant Quotes: "However, a critical review of the current published reports of possible human disease from inhalation of Stachybotrys spores does not yet establish a clear-cut cause and effect relationship to warrant the degree of concern now expressed by such terms as 'fatal fungus.'" (p. 62).

"Published reports fail to establish inhalation of Stachybotrys spores as a cause of human disease even in water-damaged buildings." (p. 57).

"There is no case of hypersensitivity pneumonitis caused by Stachybotrys in the published literature." (p. 59).

Peer Review: Yes.

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