The early summer flooding left some South Dakota residents with leaky basements, which in turn left them prime spots for the growth of mold.
Although mold can affect the health of some groups of people, it may not be in the way they think.
According to Anthony Burbach, a physician assistant at Sanford Vermillion, people who have good immune systems typically will not suffer any problems.
However, those with compromised immune systems � such as people who are HIV-positive or are undergoing chemotherapy � may be at risk for infection.
�Those people could have more of a problem with mold, as far as infection goes,� Burbach said. �But in general, people that have good, healthy immune systems wouldn�t have problems with infection.�
People with stronger immune systems can be affected by the ingestion of mycotoxims, which are produced by some types of mold.
�People always get concerned about inhaling these spores and are they going to get pneumonia or upper respiratory infections from inhaling them,� Burbach said. �There has been no scientific evidence that you can take in these spores through inhalation. It�s usually when you eat things that have mold.�
People with hypersensitive reactions such as asthma or allergies also are more susceptible to mold-related symptoms of illness.
�People like that are going to have more problems with upper respiratory symptoms, like the runny nose, the cough, maybe shortness of breath. It�s just going to be an exacerbation of their allergies or their asthma,� Burbach said.
He added that moldy areas of the home should be cleaned as soon as possible, although the job might best be left to professionals for someone suffering from allergies or immune deficiencies.
�Asthmatics and people who have the hypersensitivity would want to stay out of the moldy areas, obviously,� he said.
The South Dakota Department of Health has provided some tips on the prevention of indoor mold problems, including:
� Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely,
� Scrub mold off surfaces with detergent and dry completely,
� Throw out moldy carpets and moldy ceiling tiles and
� Keep indoor humidity low, below 60 percent.
Burbach said it is important to avoid chronic exposures.
�There are some relations between chronic exposure and asthma. That�s kind of the biggest one in most of the research I found,� he said. �People who have a lot of mold in their basement, it probably is a good idea to get that stuff out of there. Not necessarily for the acute infection or the problems that you have right at the moment, but the chronic exposure could lead to health problems down the line.�
For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/mold/.