A patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital has died from a fungus infection.
The patient was one of six to develop an infection from 2018-2019, according to Alyse Bernal, public relations manager of the hospital.
The infections result in several operating rooms being shut down in May by the detection of Aspergillus fungus in the air. The hospital stated that the risk to patients was low, but that it was reaching those who might have been exposed.
The Children’s Hospital patient died after developing an Aspergillus infection in 2018, Bernal stated. Details about the patient and the case have not been shared for the purpose of privacy.
Gaps in air filtration is believed to have been key in the presence of mold, Bernal stated. While the hospital works with outside industrial hygienists to clear the rooms of Aspergillus infection, all 14 of the hospital’s main operating rooms remain closed, Bernal said.
“We are regularly implementing improvements and remedial actions, and then retesting the air to prove our efforts have been sufficient. It is difficult to predict when we will be able to safely continue operations but our patients’ safety is our priority and we will reopen our operating rooms when we are confident they are safe for patient care,” Bernal stated.
Aspergillus is a common fungus that most people breathe without getting sick but that poses a greater risk to those with weakened immune systems or lung disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health problems can include allergic reactions, lung infections, and other organ infections.
Those who developed infections at the hospital were at high risk because of the type of system they had, Bernal stated.
Fungus infections in hospitals had fatal consequences before.
Fungus played a part in five deaths between October 2014 and May 2016 at two University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals, according to a 2017 report.
Those patients were exposed to Mucor and Rhizopus fungus.
Those who died of the infection were operation patients. The report showed that both the hospital and the facility that handled the hospital’s clothes tested positive for the fungus.