Background: There is a lack of standardized protocols for assessing the presence of indoor fungi. It is thus difficult to compare results from different studies or to measure the effect of indoor fungal presence on occupants.
Aims: The aim of the present work was to evaluate the presence of airborne fungal propagules within a hospital taking into account the influence of environmental factors.
Methods: The study was conducted in a hospital over a period of two years. Two portable aerobiological samplers were used: one capturing propagules onto a sticky surface, and the other onto a culture medium consisting of Sabouraud dextrose agar in Petri dishes, supplemented with chloramphenicol. Sampling was performed indoors at four sites (two on the ground floor and two on the third floor, each consisting of an open ward and a closed room). Samples were also taken outdoors. The following factors were considered for fungus occurrence: season, weather conditions, number of people present in the wards, the insulation of the indoor sites and the existence of construction works on the two floors. We carried out 60 ten-minute samples, weekly during the spring (24 samples), and fortnightly for the rest of the year (36 samples).
Results: A total of 2456 colony forming units (CFU) were obtained, with mean propagule concentrations of 107 CFU/m(3) outdoors and 24 CFU/m(3) indoors. 35330 counts were recorded for propagules. The mean concentrations were 2473 propagules/m(3) outdoors and 790 indoors. A statistically significant positive correlation was found between the number of people in one of the wards and fungus occurrence, and the occurrence in both ground floor and third floor rooms was positively correlated with outdoor levels. These showed a seasonal pattern with peaks in summer. Indoors, however, the peaks appeared in spring and autumn. Outdoor construction activities affected the propagule loads but not the number of CFU.
Conclusions: The indoor fungus occurrence in the hospital was independent of meteorological conditions and of insulation from outside of the indoor sites selected, but was correlated with the season and number of people in the third floor ward. Outdoor construction activities affected values of indoor propagules, although seasonality could mask their effect.
Copyright © 2011 Revista Iberoamericana de Micología. Published by Elsevier Espana. All rights reserved.