Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Allergy Seasons in Hawaii

Hawaii could be a perfect place to live for people with allergies to continental trees and grasses. Yet, it has myriads of flowers and tropical trees blooming all year around. The State of Hawaii has the second highest childhood asthma rate in the nation, with 10.8% percent of children ages 0-17 diagnosed with asthma. This is mostly caused by Hawaii’s topical climate which makes for abundant vegetation, pollen, high humidity, dust mites, dust, cockroaches, and outdoor living.

One of the largest issues is outdoor mold. While in cold climates mold usually send their spores airborne from May through October, in warm and humid Hawaiian climate molds could persist throughout the year. Inhalation of mold spores could lead to sneezing, asthma, itchy and watery eyes. The symptoms may become worse for people eating cheese, mushrooms, soy sauce, dried fruits or vinegar. 

Other issues could be dust and pesticides from the cane fields. The worst months in Maui are May to November, especially mid-May to August because of the wind pattern.  Residents could also suffer from smoke coming from burning crops or garbage (combined with high winds) and polluted air due to high car traffic. Big island and Maui, to some extent Oahu, are also exposed to sulfurous odor coming from active volcanoes. Kauai is the best place for those who can't tolerate volcanic air. Yet Kauai and Hilo side of the Big Island could be the worst place for other types of pollen allergies as they have the wettest climate.  Oahu has very high mold levels too, although it could vary from place to place and depend on the exposure to indoor mold. You can check current pollen, dust and dander levels here.

See what people are saying about their experiences:  
  1. erik in honolulu
    I moved to Hawaii four months ago and my allergies have been the worst in my life since moving here. With so many flowers and fruits blooming year round, there is no relief from the pollen. Beware the rainbow state – bring allergy meds.
    I lived on Oahu for 13 years. It might just be that you were allergic to mold- that the place you were staying in had mold. Another place to stay might be fine. 
    My husband and I lived in Kihei on Maui for a year. I got what I thought was bronchitis every few months. Apparently, it was allergies. My husband was fine most of the year but mid May to mid August he was severly ill from his allergies and asthma.
    It was so bad we had to move. We would love to go back to Hawaii but do not know which areas of Hawaii are better for people with severe allergies/asthma. I have heard that Kauai and Hilo side of the Big Island are bad. Any insights into specific good or bad areas of each island would be very appreciated. — Donna, formerly in Hawaii
    1. Al Choholic
      ha , so you moved here hoping to catch a break with allergies ? :) Kihei has : 1.) basically two crowded roads , always glutted with cars ; 2.) cane growers , in tandem with Monsanto , waging chemical warfare against everyone on this island by burning their crops , which are contaminated by Monsanto ‘ s ” Franken – pesticides ” ….. not to mention the plastic piping , and various other ” miscellaneous ” items that they burn at these times ; 3.) much less than 100 miles away ( from Kihei , about 35 miles from Maui ) an active volcano . Hmmmmmm……
      I wouldn ‘ t so much call it ” allergies ” as I would call it ” polluted air ” . I ‘ m sure big cities are worse , the ones I ‘ ve been in are anyways , but Kihei is not the place to come for fresh air . If you had to be on Maui , I’ d suggest something Hana way , I ‘d LOVE to be there myself , but we ( gf and myself ) are not bohemian millionaires , nor are we locals , so nix that idea . If you have the money it ‘s the place to be …..
      unless if you have problems with mold . In which case , Kaua ‘ i , and Hilo area would be bad for you …. they both have a very wet climate , as I ‘ m sure you know Hana area has as well ( although not nearly as wet ) .
      My ” best ” suggestion for you two , I ‘ d guess something on Oahu , away from the city for sure , maybe towards North Shore , although somewhere thats not tooo wet . Oahu doesnt seem to get the vog as badly ( although they did get a spell of it around the time of the World Series last year ) as islands that are closer to Big Island …..
      by the way , your husband prob got sick between May and August because of the wind pattern at that time of the year …. pulling vog from Big Island .
      Lastly , I am a runner , moved from Minnesota , and the amount of stamina I ‘ ve lost in the year and a half that I ‘ ve been here ………wow .( And I run at night mostly. ) They burned here on Friday and now several people at work ( today is Sunday ) are sick …… I guess my points are 1.) money always tries to blame people for their ” allergies ” as they are sickening people ; 2.) there are better places out here than Kihei.
    1. Leilani Dune
      Kona is beautiful, but is not the place to be for asthma suffers. The State of Hawaii has failed its’ residents, as it failed to report the detrimental effects of asthma for fear of losing tourist or real estate business. As a result, our people have suffered greatly both economically and and physically.
      As a runner, and unaware of the detrimental effects of vog like conditions, I have developed a severe respiratory condition. I have never smoked, have been running since a teenager. We need to unite to make the State accountable to its’ people. Why sacrafice profit for health? ALoha, Leilani
    2. Alice Mastello
      We went to Hawaii in 1997 and I became horribly ill. I am very allergic to mold, systemically, and am afraid to go back there. Can not find out anything on mold there, but am reading the blogs and think I should continue to stay far away. Does anyone know how to find out what the mold counts are?
      by AllergyNurse

      I’m on Maui now. Different grasses but the Waddle trees here leave enough pollen to coat a house! Shorter season than grass though, and not quite as bad. Cost of living here is killing me instead!

      I lived in the big Island and Oahu in the 90′s. Allergy Nurse, if you can handle the prices you might consider as a temporary fix moving to Oahu. It’s much more crowded than Maui, but I found it to be pretty good for me allergy-wise. We moved there as the mold in Hilo and the Vog in various places on the Big Island were too much for me. On Oahu I did fine. There were occasional days where I’d need to take an inhalor, but only a handful of times in a few years. You might also consider finding an environmental allergist who can help you build your immunity to allergies. These doctors are specially trained and more thorough than regular allergists. A good source for learning about this type of treatment would be to read some of Dr. Sherry Rogers’ books or google Dr. William Rea. He has a clinic in Texas and is big in the field. Not suggesting you go to Texas, but you can get the info on their site or from Rogers’ books like “Detox or Die” about how to find someone credible. Keep in mind you could have mold issues too, or even vog. You might think too of moving to the dryer part of Maui or Oahu where mold and pollen would be less. You’d still have access to the beaches, etc. Casey, the environmental allergy treatments migt help you too. I do have a friend who’s lived in Oregon for many years, he swears by the fact that no matter where in Oregon, it is very moldy and that could be what is affecting you more than the pollen. You need to be tested to see what the underlying causes are. If either of you had problems with mold or chemical sensitivities or there was something else depressing your immune system, it can manifest in greater sensitivity to allergies. Some other underlying immune issues could be: suppressed adrenals (read James Wilson’s book “Adrenal Fatigue”, underlying infections from dental cavitations or tooth, gum infections, sinus infections, use of steroids for asthma, arthritis also suppress immune function. Also having a plugged toxic liver is known as a great cause of allergies. Google “liver cleanses” and start reading about them. People have been known to get totally over allergies by doing them. Ideally you would do them under a practitioners supervision but you can do it on your own. You just need to prepare carefully and thoroughly. If any of you can find reputable alternative care that would be a big leg up to resolving some of these issues and Summer, you might some day be able to return to your beautiful home in the Hawaiian Islands. As per Arizona, I have heard very good things about it as far as being away from molds, that may be Summer what might have been aggravating your system. I hope this helps and I wish you all Aloha.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mold Allergy

According to a recent Quest Diagnostics Study, allergies are on the rise. Especially in regards to two environmental allergens: ragweed and mold. Over the four year period, sensitization to common ragweed grew 15% nationally while mold grew 12%. By comparison, sensitization to the 11 allergens combined (including two house dust mites, cats and dogs, and five foods) increased 5.8%. 
Allergic responses to mold are quite common, the symptoms are hay fever-type: sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rush. 

In US, mold allergies can appear any time. Mold is a precipitation-affected aeroallergen, it may increase in prevalence with a warmer climate. The southern part of United states faces the longest mold allergy season as warmer weather last for a longer time. Mold allergy season here normally begins in the month of June and continues up to the month of August, but it can start earlier and last longer. Mold allergy is especially bad in the coastal area due to the presence of humidity which results in wet summers. In the North, The map shows a snapshot of mold allergies in continental USA. Hawaii is not shown, but its climate is very favorable to mold growth. Midwest and Great Plains, mold allergy fluctuates throughout the year and can appear any time. 

Mold spores usually land on wet surfaces and need water or moisture to grow. There are many types of mold. Cladosporium is one of the most common indoor and outdoor varieties. This fungi appear olive-green, brown and black and are usually found on living and dead plant material. In May, it was observed in Washington, DC, Delaware, Florida, Idaho and many other states. 

Basidiosporus is another cosmopolitan mold. It can cause brown rot, grow and destroy the structural wood in buildings. It can cause type I allergies (hay fever-like, asthma) and type III hypersensitivity pneumonitis. 

Smuts can be found on cereal crops, grasses and other flowering plants. They usually do not grow indoors and cause type I allergy symptoms. In May they were identified in Idaho and other states. 

Ascospores are among the most variable fungi in appearance ranging from transparent and colorless to opaque black. They are very abundant in outdoor air on rainy days, often appearing when the first warm rains occur after winter.
Although generally considered "outdoor" spores, some Ascomycetes producing ascospores grow well indoors on wet materials. In May this type of fungi were identified in Florida and other states.

Alternaria - known as major plant pathogens - stimulates sensitization in the lower airways, grow on skin and mucous membranes, including on the eyeballs, not only within the respiratory tract. Many human health disorders  - related to alternariosis and alternariatoxicosis - can be caused by these fungi, although serious infections are rare.

All fungi can produce some kind of allergens, but the most common ones are less likely to cause symptoms. Cladosporium, Alternaria, Bipolaris, Curvularia, Pithomyces and Stachybotrys contain allergens reacting to the IgE, but Epicoccum, Fusarium, and Spegazzinia apparently do not. Besides, personal exposure to airborne fungi could significantly vary even in exactly the same conditions. Thus personal spore traps may be a better measure of exposure than stationary air sampling equipment. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Foodborne outbreaks update

E.coli outbreak is spreading through Europe. As of June 1, more than 1,500 people are infected in Germany, source of E.coli cases remains unknown. The death toll rose to 16 with the first death outside of Germany, in Sweden.

Why is this strain of E. coli 0104:H4, 93% similar to EAEC 55989 with several antibiotic-resistant genes, so virulent? Was there something wrong with lettuce, tomatoes or cucumbers? Is it safe to eat vegetables? 

These questions remain unanswered. 
All we know is that women account for most of the cases, while young and middle-aged adults are most severely affected.  Kidney failure appears to be a signature of this E.coli.
Meanwhile all is quiet on the foodborne outbreak front in the US.

There were 8 E.coli cases (serotype O157:H7) reported in April (1 in Michigan, 3 in Minnesota and 4 in Wisconsin). 75% of infected were males. These cases were associated with in-shell hazelnuts. 

14 more E.coli cases  (serotype O157:H7reported in April (3 in Maryland, 2 in New Jersey, 1 in North Carolina, 2 in Ohio and 6 in Pennsylvania) were associated with Lebanon Bologna. 

There were more outbreaks of Salmonella Typhimurium infections associated with African dwarf frogs and clinical/teaching microbiology laboratories. 

Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium from frogs

Infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, by state
As of May 9, 2011, a total of 222 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 41 states (statistics since April 1, 2009). The number of ill person identified in each state is as follows: Alaska (5), Alabama (2), Arizona (10), California (18), Colorado (12), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Georgia (4), Idaho (4), Illinois (8), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (2), Massachusetts (6), Maryland (5), Michigan (6), Minnesota (1), Missouri (5), Mississippi (1), Montana (2), North Carolina (1), Nebraska (2), New Hampshire (3), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (2), Nevada (4), New York (7), Ohio (7), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (15), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (4), Texas (4), Utah (18), Virginia (11), Vermont (1), Washington (23), Wisconsin (4), and West Virginia (1).

Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium from microbiology labs

Infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, by state
As of April 20, 2011, a total of 73 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 35 US states: AK (1), AL (3), AZ (2), CA (1), GA (5), IA (1), ID (2), IL (3), IN (1), KS (1), KY (3), MA (2), MD (2), MI (2), MN (4), MO (2), NC (1), ND (1), NE (2), NJ (2), NM (3), NV (1), NY (1), OH (1), OK (1), OR (1), PA (6), SC (2), SD (1), TN (2), TX (1), UT (3), WA (5), WI (3), WY (1).

Fewer people were infected with another type of Salmonella, Salmonella Panama from Cantaloupe:  Oregon (5 cases), Washington (4 cases), California (2 cases), Colorado (1 case) and Maryland (1 case). Dates of illness onset ranged from February 5, 2011 to March 4, 2011. 62% were male. 

US foodborne outbreaks: 2011 stories