Attic Bats Could Expose Building Occupants to Fungal Pathogens
There are over a thousand species of bats worldwide and many can be found living near people. Unfortunately, many homeowners have found that for some species of bats, a favorite place to roost is in their attic. Bats can fit through small openings to reach an attic where they can congregate in large numbers. Over time, they will deposit significant amounts of droppings, known as guano.
Not only does guano create unpleasant odors and can cause damage to property, it also supports a fungus known as Histoplasma capsulatum that can cause a potentially severe infection called histoplasmosis. If the guano is disturbed, fungal spores can become aerosolized and inhaled causing people to develop the infection.
Although many people who breathe in these spores don’t get sick, those who do may have a fever, cough, chills, headache, chest pain, body aches and fatigue. Symptoms often appear between 3 and 17 days after a person inhales the fungal spores. In some people with a weakened immune system, the infection can become severe, especially if it spreads from the lungs to other organs. Even homeowners’ cats and dogs can develop histoplasmosis.
“Environmental testing for Histoplasma capsulatum creates several unique challenges,” said Jason Dobranic, Ph.D., Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Classical nonviable testing methods are not used because its spores are very similar to various other fungi. This means that testing is done by viable cultures and because Histoplasma capsulatum is a slow growing fungus, special media must be used to promote its growth while simultaneously suppressing the growth of other more rapidly growing fungi. Due to these challenges, at EMSL we also offer a rapid PCR method that provides for extremely accurate and rapid results in addition to traditional culturing methods.”
EMSL recently sponsored an educational video about potential health concerns due to bats living in attics that can be seen at: http://youtu.be/dJ-86U2obKA.
To learn more about testing for Histoplasma capsulatum or other environmental, health and safety services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800) 220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com .
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of food, environmental, and materials testing services and products to government agencies, industry professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.
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