Aspergillus clavatus is a species of mold that is widespread and frequently found growing in soil and animal manure. It’s common in foods like cereals.
A. clavatus is occasionally pathogenic and is capable of producing mycotoxins, specifically, the toxin patulin, which may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. A. clavatus is also allergenic, causing hypersensitivity pneumonitis (also known as “Malt Worker’s Lung”).
What is Aspergillus clavatus mold?
Aspergillus clavatus grows as a mold. It forms a velvety felt that is greenish blue in color.
The molds produce multiple spores that are referred to as conidia. These spores not only serve reproductive purposes, but are also a means through which the mold is dispersed to different locations, and spread as a disease.
Since its discovery in the early 19th century, Aspergillus clavatus has been well characterized and identified both as a useful fungus, and one that can cause potentially life-threatening illness.
Conditions that favor the growth of Aspergillus clavatus
The mold grows best in temperatures ranging between 70 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It also requires a good level of humidity to grow.
It therefore thrives during summer, and all year round in southern areas. The mold primarily grows on soils, particularly cultivated soil such as those found in barley plantations, potatoes, cotton, and legume plantations.
It also grows in animal dung. In towns, it grows in households, that is on floors and walls, especially in moist or wet areas. It can also be found in food stored with high moisture content.
Aspergillus clavatus mold health effects
This species is not as pathogenic as other Aspergillus species. A lot of people inhale and consume Aspergillum clavatus spores on a regular basis without getting sick.
It is, however, pathogenic to some people, especially those with a compromised immune system. Additionally, some people are allergic to this mold.
Also, Aspergillus clavatus produces mycotoxins which have the potential of causing serious illnesses. Below is a brief list of the illnesses caused by Apergillus clavatus:
- Pulmonary aspergillosis: A lung infection caused by the mold
- Malt Worker’s Lung: A diseased caused by an allergic reaction to the mold
- Nail and skin infections
- Patulin toxicity: This occurs as a result of exposure to mycotoxins produced by the mold.
Pulmonary Aspergillosis is a kind of fungal pneumonia that is caused by a good number of Aspergillus species. In most cases, it does not occur in normal healthy individuals as Aspergillus is a weak pathogen. The disease comes in in the setting of immune compromisation. This occurs among individuals undergoing organ transplant therapy, those on chemotherapy for leukemia, and among people living with AIDS.
Aspergillus clavatus allergy
The rest of the health conditions, especially those that are serious and life-threatening, arise from allergic reactions to the fungus.
The mold’s conidia are very strong allergens. When one is repeatedly exposed to them, their body mounts a hypersensitive immune response that ends up damaging the surrounding tissue.
This leads to various illnesses in the lungs and airways when inhaled, and the intestines if ingested orally.
Malt Worker’s Lung disease
This is the most popular and most serious form of allergy to Aspergillus. It occurs when one repeatedly inhales large amounts of Aspergillus clavatum spores.
It is more of an occupational disease as it occurs in individuals working in barley plantations, and those working in breweries. In the fields, the mold grows well in the soil.
As for breweries, heating of barley during malting releases large amounts of spores into the air. Workers in these breweries tend to get lung diseases from this exposure, hence the term “Malt worker’s Lung” disease.
The disease causes symptoms that progress from acute, to subacute, and finally chronic stage. In the acute stage, the primary symptoms are coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty in breathing.
One may also experience systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, malaise, and headaches. As the disease progresses to the subacute phase, loss of appetite and loss of weight sets in. One also starts to experience general body fatigue.
By the time one gets to the chronic phase, lung function is fully compromised and respiratory distress sets in. One gets symptoms of inadequate oxygenation such as finger clubbing. There is also significant wasting. At this point, the disease is irreversible.
Aspergillus clavatus patulin toxicity
Apart from directly getting infected by the fungus itself, one can get serious health effects from exposure to toxins produced by Aspergillus.
The most notable toxin of the clavatus species is the patulin mycotoxin. It is commonly found in apples and apple products a such as fruit juices, jams, and cider. It is can also be found in other fruits such as berries, bananas, plums, and cherries.
Once ingested, these toxins majorly result in gastrointestinal irritation. This presents as stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. It also causes some difficulty in breathing, coughing, and accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
In worst case scenarios, the patulin toxin results in neurotoxicity which can cause life-threatening convulsions and neurologic deficits. It is, therefore, a serious medical condition.
Treatment of Aspergillus clavatum health conditions
It depends on the specific treatment. Infections such as pulmonary aspergillosis respond to antifungal therapies of itraconazole and amphotericin B.
As for allergic conditions such as “Malt Worker’s Lung” disease, these are much harder to treat. Anti-allergic medication is used in the early stages, and anti-inflammatory medication such as glucocorticoids in serious diseases. But in general, it is always better to prevent the conditions as their treatment is complicated.
Prevention of Aspergillus clavatus infections and removal of mold
The standard approach to achieving this is to eliminate all possible factors that expose one to the mold. For farmers, use of protective gear when working on the fields should be the standard practice. Factory workers are also required by law to wear bioprotective masks when working.
For molds in homesteads, thorough decontamination is the way to go. This is especially applicable to immunocompromised individuals, and those with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and tuberculosis. All surfaces need to be cleaned with antiseptic solution, with keen attention to moist and wet areas such as around sinks and drains in bathrooms and kitchens.
For most people, this is not a simple DIY procedure. That’s why it is best to consult professional mold removing agencies. They have the knowledge of the best way to approach the problem and can offer guidance and even complete servicing for your house. Mold Busters are an excellent mold removing company.
It is important to contact mold removal professionals like Mold Busters if you suspect mold growth in your living or working environment. We offer a complete selection of mold testing, air quality testing and mold remediation services.