Moulds have a protein and polysaccharide components that make them potentially allergenic to sensitized individuals. Due to their small size, mould spores are able to penetrate deep into the respiratory tract where they can elicit allergic reactions. There are 2 types of respiratory allergy, the type I allergy (immediate hay-fever or asthma) and the type III (delayed farmer’s lung). Type I allergy occurs only in atopic (allergic) individuals.
Type I allergy may be caused by plant pathogens such as Tilletia caries, Fulvia fulva, and Leptosphaeria nodorum. Saprophytic moulds such as Cladosporium herbarum and Alternaria spp occurring in indoor environment or from rotting vegetation can also cause type 1 allergy. Mouldy straw, hay and decaying leaves are important sources of allergenic moulds such as Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, and Penicillium spp.
There are occupational pulmonary and epidermal allergies. The former occur in the cheese industry (Penicillium roquefortii), the breweries (Aspergillus clavatus), mushroom farms (Doratomyces sp) and compositing sites (various moulds). An example of epidermal or skin allergies is the cane harvesters allergy caused by Arthrinium sp.
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