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Acremonium is a fungal genus with a number of species which are often found living in structures, frequently in insulation. These fungi are also widely distributed in the soil and in plant debris, and they can be found all over the world, in a variety of environments. There are several species of note within this genus, ranging from fungi which can cause serious infections to fungi used in the production of pharmaceuticals.
These fungi reproduce asexually, producing spores which allow the fungus to spread. Colonies can mature in less than a week in a warm, moist environment, making Acremonium a very fast growing fungus. The colony typically has a slightly powdery texture, and a color which can vary from gray to pink. Several species produce mycotoxins, substances which can cause ill health in humans and other animals.
Acremonium is a ubiquitous fungus which often causes contamination of lab samples and food. The fungus can thrive on an assortment of substrates, which makes it difficult to control. It can also sometimes be challenging to identify, and often the differences between individual species are subtle and very hard to pin down, a very common problem with molds.
For humans, A. falciforme, A. kiliense and A. recifei are of most concern. These species have all been linked with infections in humans. Pulmonary infections seem to be especially common, but these fungi have been isolated from infections in other regions of the body as well, classically in immunocompromised individuals who lack the ability to fight the fungus off. Several antifungal medications can be used to treat an Acremonium infection, although these medications are not always successful in eradicating the fungus.
One species, A. strictum, is a common culprit behind mycetoma, a subcutaneous infection which can be caused by bacteria or fungi. This infection typically appears in the foot, and is most common among agricultural laborers and people who spend a lot of time barefoot. Medications can sometimes be used to manage the infection, but in other cases more extreme measures, including amputation, have been needed to prevent the spread of the fungal infection.
A. chrysogenum is used in the production of the cephalosporin class of antibiotics. In fact, this fungal genus was once known as Cephalosporium, reflecting this fact. These antibiotics can be extremely useful in the treatment of a range of conditions, making this particular species a very valuable member of the Acremonium genus.
When I worked on a trip with a mission in New Orleans our biggest fear was mold like this. On this mission trip we tried to help our homeowners post-Katrina to "muck" their houses and this meant stripping it down to its foundation and wood walls to get rid of much of the mold that had developed on other parts of the house.
We wore masks and things over our mouths at all times, and no one ever became sick, which was nice.
The saddest part of the trip was meeting the homeowners who had been in their houses for decades, who in some instances would have to rebuild because the damage was too expansive and there were
those whose memories like photo albums were ruined.
The other crazy thing was that the trip took place a year and a half after Katrina - which really reminded everyone on our trip of how much damage New Orleans incurred because of the Katrina.
@allenJo - I am more concerned about the possibility of mold. From what I understand acremonium shows up as mold in some buildings.
I think it’s important to eliminate some of the possible sources for mold buildup, like having leaks in your house. You should make sure that you clean up any wet puddles right away to prevent mold from developing, and also keep your house well ventilated.
I like to work outdoors a lot and sometimes I go barefoot. After reading this article, I will never do that again.
While I like the feeling of the rich soil on my bare feet, I realize that I might be creating an opportunity for acremonium strictum to develop.
The last thing I need is a fungal foot infection. I battled toe fungus some time ago and was able to cure it. I don’t need to go through anything like that again.
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