Published: Thu, July 04, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Mold in Seattle Children's Hospital Kills 1, Infects 5

Mold in Seattle Children's Hospital Kills 1, Infects 5

Seattle Children's Hospital in Washington revealed on Tuesday that a patient died and five others were infected by a risky mold.

Three patients were infected last year and three this year, Children's public-relations manager Alyse Bernal wrote in an email.

"The six patients who developed Aspergillus infections were at higher risk of infection due to the types of procedures they had", Bernal wrote. "We are deeply saddened that one of these patients died".

On Sunday, Children's declared it had closed its main operating rooms while experts examine an "air quality issue".

She said the hospital would "reopen our operating rooms when we are confident they are safe for patient care", but she did not give a time frame for that to happen.

Many surgeries have been postponed and many of them have been delegated to other Medical Centers or other campuses of Seattle.

"People can get Aspergillus on their clothing, and in their hair just walking around outside, so you could imagine how little bits of Aspergillus can make their way into a hospital", stated Dr. Danielle Zerr, the Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Seattle Children's, in May. The fungus infects mainly the people with respiratory disorders, lung diseases and very weak immune system. Aspergillosis can range from mild to serious, manifesting as an allergic reaction or infections in the lungs and other organs. "Outside industrial hygienists" are helping the hospital investigate the source of the mold, she wrote.

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The infections follow several operating rooms being shut down in May by the detection of Aspergillus mold in the air.

Despite their preventative measures, officials say patients that have been exposed to the mold are at low risk of being infected.

A May investigation by the Seattle Children's Hospital found problems in its air system, including gaps in filters that could let spores through.

She said the hospital is correcting the issues.

The CDC provided its expertise and "ultimately determined that Children's was taking the right approach to address the situation at that time", Apa wrote to The Post, saying that neither Apa's department nor the CDC produced reports.

The hospital said it is deep cleaning the rooms and replacing equipment for air purification and humidification.

After the hospital closed the four operating rooms May 18, some "urgent and less invasive procedures" were performed in the remaining 10 operating rooms, Bernal wrote in an email to The Times Tuesday. The report attached to the letter highlights number of issues one of them being, "air handlers serving the operating rooms". The hospital will share additional information as it becomes available.

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