Annual Report 2001 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

15 Wearing Fungus-Harboring Fabrics in Hospitals

Kay Obendorf, Textiles and Apparel, and research staff conducted a study that revealed clothing worn by visitors and patients in hospitals is a leading carrier of Aspergillus—a common airborne mold fungus. Aspergillus spores can cause dangerous infections, such as the lung disease pulmonary aspergillosis, in hospital patients with damaged or impaired immune systems—for example leukemia, chemotherapy, organ and marrow transplant, and AIDS patients. Any physical contact with the patient or just walking into a patient's room dislodges spores from clothing. Cotton fabric was shown to be the leading harbor of Aspergillus spores, however wool is equally suspect. Although many hospitals use HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters in rooms of these patients, staff and visitors can easily recontaminate the rooms. The researchers found that laundering is highly effective in removing spores. The risk of infections could be greatly reduced by having staff and visitors cover their clothing with hospital-laundered garments and shoe covers before entering a patient's room.

> Back  /  > Next Article  /  > Back to Listing

© 2002 by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research [OVPR], Cornell University.

Cornell University  
314 Day Hall
Ithaca, New York

P: 607.255.7200
F: 607.255.9030
E: VP Research
C: Credits