In New York City (NYC), domestic mold contamination was the most common residential complaint following Hurricane Sandy (HS). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of fungal sensitization in NYC asthmatic children that were impacted by HS.
Asthmatic children (n=58) living in homes damaged by HS were recruited (ages 6-15 years). Dust was collected from homes and serum from children 16-33 months after HS. Bedroom floor dust was analyzed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction for 36 fungi (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index panel) and compared to results from non-damaged homes (NYC Neighborhood Asthma and Allergy Study, n=347). IgE was measured by CAP (ThermoFisher, >0.1 IU/ml considered positive) to common fungi and those selected based on fungi detected in dust in HS damaged homes.
As compared to non-damaged homes, significantly (P<0.05) more HS damaged homes had measurableAcremonium strictum, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus penicillioides, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Epicoccum nigrum, Mucor amphibiorum, Penicillium purpogenum, and Scopulariopsis brevicaulis. Nearly all homes (damaged and non-damaged) had detectable levels of Aureobasidium pullulansand Cladosporium herbarum. Many (50%) of the children in HS damaged homes had measureable IgE to at least one of the fungi tested, most commonly, Alternaria alternata (36%), Candida albicans (22%)Aureobasidium pullulans (19%), Aspergillus fumigatus (17%), Helminthosporium halodes (17%) and Mucor racemosus (17%).
Among asthmatic children living in NYC homes damaged by HS, sensitization to fungi was common, including to some species that were more abundant in HS damaged homes, suggesting that these children were susceptible to greater asthma morbidity.