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Published: August 28, 2018, Updated:

Geotrichum

Geotrichum is a common genus of fungi which can be found all over the world, in soil, water, air and sewage. They also grow on plants, dairy products and cereal grains. Furthermore, some species of Geotrichum are considered a normal part of human flora.

Geotrichum colonies are white, flat and have a powdery or waxy texture. Geotrichum has a rapid growth rate, and its dry spores disperse easily through the air, making them easy to inhale.

What is Geotrichum mold?

The first Geotrichum mold to be scientifically described was Geotrichum candidum. This is a species of fungus that is present in the microbiome of human beings.

In humans, it is mostly associated with the skin, feces and sputum and occurs in about 30% of specimens [1]. It has also been isolated from soil all over the world and causes sour rot in many fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, it is used in the production of various dairy products such as rind cheeses [2].

It mostly occurs as rapidly spreading colonies that appear thin, soft, creamy and white.

What are known Geotrichum species?

Although the Geotrichum genus formerly comprised over 100 species, today it only recognizes 21 [3]. Many species have been transferred to the Saprochaeta genus, including clinically relevant species such as G. capitatum and G. clavatum (now respectively known as S. capitata and S. clavata).

Most Geotrichum/Saprochaeta infections are associated with S. capitata. S. clavata is somewhat less common in human invasive fungal disease. However, these two species cannot be distinguished by biochemical methods and misidentification is frequent [4]. G. candidum is even less frequently reported as a human pathogen, but it may lead to disseminated and invasive diseases with high mortality [5].

Where can Geotrichum be found?

Geotrichum species are truly cosmopolitan and can be found in almost all the parts of the world. They mostly colonize the soil, but can also be found in the water and its spores are ever-present in the air. In addition to that, this mold can also be found on plants, dairy products and even in the digestive tract of human beings.

Where can you find Geotrichum mold in the house?

Because it occurs relatively rarely, Geotrichum mold is not a common household name. This is a good thing because this type of mold can be very difficult to remove. As stated above, Geotrichum colonies appear white to cream in colour, are soft to the touch and can spread easily in a wide range of conditions.

This mold can attack your home irrespective of the location and weather conditions. If a Geotrichum spore happens to land in a moist area in your home or garage, it will develop into a visible mold in a matter of days. Damp areas of the house, such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements should be regularly checked for mold growth.

If not kept in check and controlled immediately, the mold will mature and release spores. These spores will then move through the air and establish another colony in the house, beginning a vicious cycle of mold growth and spore release.

Is Geotrichum mold dangerous?

The presence of Geotrichum in the surrounding environment is normal and in most cases is nothing to worry about. However, it can be dangerous and destructive if it manages to develop into a mold growth in your home. In addition to causing health problems for any inhabitants, it can also cause a lot of damage to your property – eating the wood, drywall and insulation systems of your house as it spreads.

Getting rid of fully festered Geotrichum mold is more difficult than removing small colonies. Once the mold begins to sporulate it can be very persistent, as the spores are not visible to the naked eye and can remain present in your home for a very long time. In these cases, a minor leak or increase in humidity is all it takes for the mold to re-emerge. It is therefore important to ensure you regularly keep an eye out for mold in the moist areas of your house.

What are the health effects of Geotrichum mold?

Geotrichum mold can cause allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis (ABPM) [6]. Human beings of all ages can develop ABPM due to excessive inhalation of Geotrichum spores.

In most cases, infants and the elderly are most likely to be affected. Also at risk are individuals with weakened immune systems and those already suffering from pulmonary disorders.

Affected people may also begin to experience symptoms of allergy and common cold, and also headaches that do not go away even after taking aspirin medications. Itchiness in the eyes, vertigo and fatigue are also some of the other health effects of having the mold in your house.

More seriously, several Geotrichum species can cause invasive fungal diseases in immunocompromised individuals, particularly those suffering from haematological malignancies such as leukemia or lymphoma, and also those suffering from neutropenia [7]. In these cases, the infection reaches internal organs, including the lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys and central nervous system, and is often fatal – with an overall mortality rate of 65% [4].

How to get rid of Geotrichum?

If the infestation is minor, then you could attempt to remove the Geotrichum mold by yourself.

However, ensure that the house is thoroughly inspected later to confirm whether you removed the mold in its entirety.

Some of the things you will require before you start include the following:

  • Coveralls to cover your body from head to toe.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Mold safety mask that can filter out most of the mold spores.

You can use tea tree oil or baking soda and vinegar to remove small Geotrichum molds at home.

a) Tea tree oil

The first step is to mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water and shake thoroughly. Then spray the mixture on the mold infested area and then wipe with a clean cloth. You can also apply the mixture to various surfaces as a preventive measure.

b) Baking soda and vinegar

You can dilute the vinegar with some lemon juice if the scent is too strong for you. After that, mix it with the baking soda to form a paste and apply on the areas of the house that are infected. It is also safe to use on plates and utensils and even pets if they happen to get any mold in their fur.

Proper way to remove Geotrichum mold

Geotrichum mold is one of the most dangerous types of mold. Some of the factors that make it so dangerous are its cosmopolitan distribution and the speed at which it can spread. By far the safest way to remove Geotrichum mold from your house is to enlist the help of professionals.

Due to the seriousness of this mold, it is often a good idea to hire the services of a mold removal company. Our professional technicians will treat your house methodically and thoroughly to ensure that the mold is removed completely so that it does not continue to be a hazard in the future.

At Mold Busters we take pride in being one of the leading companies in the world when it comes to mold remediation. In addition to inspecting and removing any mold infestations from your home, we can advise you on the steps you can take to make your residence mold free for years to come.

Contact Mold Busters today to book an appointment with one of our mold testing and mold remediation experts.

References

  1. Domsch KH, Gams W, Andersen TH (1980). Compendium of soil fungi (2nd ed.). Academic Press, London, UK.
  2. Pottier I, Gente S, Vernoux JP, Guéguen M (2008). Safety assessment of dairy microorganisms: Geotrichum candidum. Int J Food Microbiol. 126(3):327-32.
  3. De Hoog GS, Smith MT (2004). Ribosomal gene phylogeny and species delimitation in Geotrichum and its teleomorphs. Studies in Mycology. 50: 489-515.
  4. Durán Graeff L, Seidel D, Vehreschild MJ, Hamprecht A, Kindo A, Racil Z, Demeter J, De Hoog S, Aurbach U, Ziegler M, Wisplinghoff H, Cornely OA; FungiScope Group (2017). Invasive infections due to Saprochaete and Geotrichum species: Report of 23 cases from the FungiScope Registry. Mycoses. 60(4):273-279.
  5. Henrich TJ, Marty FM, Milner DA, Thorner AR (2009). Disseminated Geotrichum candidum infection in a patient with relapsed acute myelogenous leukemia following allogeneic stem cell transplantation and review of the literature. Transpl Infect Dis. 11:458–462.
  6. Simon-Nobbe B, Denk U, Pöll V, Rid R, Breitenbach M (2008). The Spectrum of Fungal Allergy. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 145:58–86
  7. Trabelsi H, Néji S, Gargouri L, Sellami H, Guidara R, Cheikhrouhou F, Bellaaj H, Makni F, Elloumi M, Ayadi A (2015). Geotrichum capitatum septicemia: case report and review of the literature. Mycopathologia. 179(5-6):465-9.