Sandpits as a reservoir of potentially pathogenic fungi for children
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Department of Biology and Medical Parasitology, Medical University of Lodz, Poland
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Anna Wójcik   

Department of Biology and Medical Parasitology, Medical University of Lodz, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2016;23(4):542-548
Introduction and objective:
Fungi belonging to various physiological and morphological groups present in the environment are potential human pathogens. Some of them are considered as emerging pathogens. Therefore, their presence in children’s playgrounds should be regarded as health risk factor.

Material and Methods:
Sixty-eight samples of sand collected from 17 sandpits of different localities in Łódź, Poland, in autumn 2010 and 2011, and in spring 2011 and 2012 were evaluated. The fungi were isolated with classical mycological methods and identified on the basis of morphological and biochemical features.

The prevalence of fungi in spring was 94.1% of sandpits in both layers of sand (depth 0–3 cm and 10–15 cm) and in one kindergarten sandpit, but only in a deeper layer. In autumn, fungi occurred in both layers in all sandpits (100%). The fungal concentration (CFU/g of sand) varied considerably (range 0 – uncountable) in both layers. A total of 352 isolates belonging to 80 species were found. There were 69 yeasts and yeast-like fungi isolates from 12 species (9 species in each season), and 283 filamentous fungi from 68 species: 35 species in spring and 55 in autumn, with 4 keratinolytic species. There were important causes of allergies, among them Cladosporium herbarum and Alternaria alternata, as well as of opportunistic mycoses: Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus fumigatus and new and ‘emerging’ fungal pathogens e.g., Trichosporon, Rhodotorula, Fusarium and Scedosporium species.

Potentially pathogenic fungi are present in the sand taken from sandpits in Łódź. This fact poses a significant threat to child health and therefore proper maintenance and periodic checking of sandpits are of great importance.

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