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A fungus found to linger in dishwashers

June 20, 2011 at 6:57 PM

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia, June 20 (UPI) -- Dishwashers in 101 cities on six continents harbored a potentially disease-causing fungi, researchers in Slovenia, China and the Netherlands say.

Researchers at the University of Ljubljana, University of Amsterdam, the Research Center for Medical Mycology in Beijing and the Sun Yat-sen University in China and colleagues say dishwashers provide a perfect habitat for extremotolerant fungi, some of which are potentially dangerous to human health.

The study, published in Fungal Biology, found 62 percent of the dishwashers contained fungi on the rubber band in door, and 56 percent of the fungi accommodated the polyextremotolerant black yeasts Exophiala dermatitidis and E. phaeomuriformis.

Both Exophiala species showed remarkable tolerance to heat, high salt concentrations, aggressive detergents and to both acid and alkaline water -- a combination of extreme properties not previously observed in fungi, the researchers say.

Exophiala dermatitidis is frequently encountered as an agent of human disease, both in compromised and healthy people and occasionally causes fatal infections in healthy humans.

The invasion of black yeasts into homes represents a potential health risk, the researchers say.

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