What is Cryptococcus Gattii (C. Gattii)?

What is Cryptococcus Gattii (C. Gattii)?
A recent article we read on our friends blog at MBL Laboratories, advised that a rare fungal disease, cryptococcosis, is currently spreading throughout Canada and the Northwestern US.
WHAT IS IT?
Cryptococcosis is a soliborne fungus and associated with certain trees such as eucalyptus, pine or fir trees and was previously only known in warmer climates throughout the tropics, most prevalently in Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia. However, it has been suggested that it has emerged as a problem in the cooler areas of Canada, particularly British Columbia, and the Northwestern USA, because of Global Warming.

TRANSMISSION
C. Gattii is not transmitted from person to person. Rather it is transmitted by inhaling the spores. Once inhaled, the spores travel through the respiratory tract and enter the lungs and become lodged deep in the lung tissue. After infecting the lungs, C. Gattii cells travel through the bloodstream and will infect other areas of the body, including the brain.
SYMPTOMS
The website, Through Mike’s Eyes, provides a daily journal of symptoms experienced by a victim of C. Gattii. Listed below are some of the most common symptoms:
1. Fever;
2. Night sweats;
3. Decreased alertness/confusion;
4. Severe headache;
5. Prolonged cough (lasting weeks or months);
6. Unexplained shortness of breath;
7. Sharp chest pains;
8. Unintended weight loss;
9. Skin infection;
10. Sensitivity to light; and
11. Neck pain/stiffness
According to the CDC, symptoms of C. Gattii infection are estimated to begin anywhere from 2 to 14 months after exposure to the fungus.
DIAGNOSIS and TREATMENT
C. Gattii is diagnosed through a microscopic examination of body fluids such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid, and sputum and requires treatment with prescription antifungal medication for a period of 6 months or longer.
RISKS
The earlier the infection is caught, the better, particularly for the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems. Other complications that can arise from C. Gattii include the growth of invasive nodules in the brain or lungs, fungal pneumonia, meningitis and skin infections.
To learn more about C. Gattii and keep up with on-going research, please visit the website created by the British Columbia Cryptococcal Working Group, an excellent resource.
In 2009, the CBC aired a documentary on this fungus and provides an excellent summary as well.

Mold in the News: Issue 12

Mold in the News: Issue 12
At Got Mold? our goal is to keep our followers aware of mould related news stories. Each day, we scour the internet looking for relevant information. Here are some stories we thought may interest you!
Please share this information so that we can continue to increase awareness of mould and mould related illnesses. Follow us on twitter because we tweet important mould news. Our facebook page is also full of mould news…please LIKE us. Our founder, James C. Watson, is donating $0.50 for every new LIKE we get to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Thanks for your support.
FEATURE STORY: Court denies appeal of school mold lawsuit: An appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against Suffolk Public Schools by a former teacher who alleged that mold in her classroom caused her illness. Christina Hood taught fourth grade at Booker T. Washington Elementary School during the 2007-2008 school year. She originally filed suit in June 2009 claiming that the School Board knew about mold and humidity issues in the building and deliberately sought to cover up the problems.
CBC Audio: More Mould in Pikangikum First Nations
Fix them now: Building maintenance has long been a weakness of Harford County Public Schools. Certainly, school buildings are used hard and can’t be expected to last forever. Then again, most school buildings are constructed rather solidly using the best techniques of the day. Even when the old Bel Air High School building was demolished a few years back, it wasn’t falling apart and, with enough work, probably could have been kept serviceable for another half century.
$100K+ To Fix Lead, Mold at Honolulu Hale: Two city departments will together look to hire an emergency contractor to clean up mold and lead at Honolulu Hale — an operation that is expected to cost taxpayers at least $100,000. The contaminants were revealed in a report released last month by a consultant hired to study the safety of city hall last summer. Civil Beat first shared photos and details from the report Thursday.
Take Simple Steps To Reduce Mold In Storm-Impacted Buildings : Recent storms in Indiana may have caused mold. Outside, mold decays leaves, contributing to soil enrichment. However, mold growing inside buildings can cause serious health risks.
Controlling Mold Growth Indoors During Spring Cleaning and the Rest of the Year: Spring is around the corner and with the season’s warming weather we often open up our windows and take on the task of spring cleaning. As a toxicologist for EPA’s Indoor Environments Division, I’m often asked if I have any indoor air quality tips that people might use during spring cleaning. One step people might not think of is to check for excess moisture that could lead to mold growth and take steps to prevent mold from becoming a problem in the home.

Mould in Classroom Made Her Sick!

Mould in Classroom Made Her Sick: Forced to Retire, Denied Benefits!
“My doctor just kept giving me medication and I kept taking medication,” Griffith said. “I had puffers … a yellow, an orange — I’ve had them all.”
“It would be irresponsible to return an employee that has already developed a health risk.”
Yesterday I read this news story about Carmen Griffith, a woman dedicated to running the after school program at Chelsea Elementary School in West Quebec. Here are the facts:
1. Griffith’s health did not have to suffer…the root cause of the problem was a leaky roof, which was not fixed. Mold thrives in such conditions. All the school board had to do is fix the leaky roof and then conduct an air quality test to measure the mold spore count.
2. Since the roof was not fixed on the portable school room, moisture continued to enter…creating a breeding ground for mold to thrive.
3. Black mould was found underneath wallpaper covering the wall behind Griffith’s desk. Black mold, also known as stachybotrys, is toxic.
4. After four years of working at her desk, Griffith became severely ill and was constantly seeing her doctor. Eventually, the air quality was tested and toxic mold spores were found.
5. Mold is the root cause of Griffith’s health problems; mold was found growing in her lungs.
6. Griffith had to retire early because she was no longer able to work because of her health.
Despite these facts, Quebec’s Workers Compensation Agency is denying Griffith her benefits, stating that there is no link between the working conditions and her health. Really?
“I’m very upset that the system let me down,” Griffiths said. “I feel the system could have done more for me, I really do. It’s maddening.”
I agree, this is maddening! Mold is a growing concern. This problem did not have to occur; it could have easily been prevented by fixing the root cause. Yet, the West Quebec School Board failed to do this. How many other school boards are negligent and failing to make their schools safe environments for students, teachers, and staff?
It is clear that in our quest to save money our governments and school boards are sacrificing the health of our children and teachers. This story should upset every parent or teacher who is concerned about the air quality of their schools. Is your school a safe environment or a breeding ground for toxic mold? We want to know.
Make yourself heard, comment below, visit our facebook fan page, tweet us, and make sure you leave a comment on the original article published by the CBC.