Stachybotrys, a mycotoxin-producing fungus of increasing toxicologic importance

Fung F, Clark R, Williams S. Clinical Toxicology. 1998; 36(1&2):79-86. (Review)

Purpose: The authors assessed whether the scientific literature supported a relationship between Stachybotrys exposure and human toxicity.

Design: Review.

Outcome: Case reports have suggested a relationship between Stachybotrys and human illness. The authors reviewed several studies of the toxic effects of Stachybotrys, including those pertaining to the ingestion of moldy hay and straw by horses. The authors reviewed Johanning's early 1993 case study and concluded that the article did not address its potential bias of using a self-reported questionnaire to obtain symptom reporting by workers from the affected building.  Fung and colleagues also reviewed the early case reports that purportedly link Stachybotrys with human disease. The lack of scientific evidence linking Stachybotrys or its byproducts (e.g., tricothecenes, satratoxins, stachybocins) with any consistent health complaints was observed in almost every study. The Cleveland cases from 1997 also were reviewed in the current article, which concluded that "[t]he report did not imply a cause-effect relationship between mycotoxin and pulmonary hemorrhage." (p. 82). The authors reviewed the literature showing that mycotoxins from Stachybotrys species are toxic in vitro, but that there is a paucity of literature associating these fungal byproducts with illness in humans.

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