A study examining the prevalence of the fungus Fusarium in bathroom sink drains suggests that plumbing systems may be a common source of human infections.
In the first extensive survey of its kind, researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences sampled nearly 500 sink drains from 131 buildings -- businesses, homes, university dormitories and public facilities -- in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and California.
They analyzed fungal DNA to compare the spectrum of Fusarium species and sequence types found in drains with those recovered from human infections.
The study identified at least one Fusarium isolate in 66 percent of the drains and in 82 percent of the buildings. About 70 percent of those isolates came from the six sequence types of Fusarium most frequently associated with human infections.