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July 26, 1976

Thermoactinomyces in Refrigerators

Author Affiliations

Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne

JAMA. 1976;236(4):344. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270040010002

To the Editor.—  I have discovered thermophilic actinomycetes (Thermoactinomyces) growing in 66% of frost-free home refrigerators surveyed. Samples were taken from the drip pans of 230 refrigerators from homes in Indiana, New Jersey, and Illinois. Thermoactinomyces, which is a known cause of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (farmer's lung), readily produces millions of spores during growth.More recently, I have isolated Thermoactinomyces from warm moist dirt at the outside bottom of a home freezer. Previously, Thermoactinomyces was found by others in overheated hay, grain, and bagasse, as well as in home heating systems and humidifiers. I suggest cleaning the drip pan with detergent once a month.