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1 dead, 5 infected by mould that halted Seattle hospital surgeries

Last Updated Jul 3, 2019 at 11:55 am PDT

Seattle Children's hospital has closed its main operating rooms after one patient has died and others have been infected by a potentially dangerous mould. (Source: Google Maps, Screenshot)

SEATTLE — Seattle Children’s hospital has revealed that one patient has died and five others have been infected by a potentially dangerous mould that has forced the medical centre to close all of its main operating rooms.

The hospital disclosed the infections and death to The Seattle Times Tuesday in response to follow-up questions regarding the closures of four operating rooms on its main Seattle campus May 18 because of Aspergillus mould and of the remaining 10 operating rooms May 24.

The hospital says operating rooms have been infested by mould — off and on — for about a year likely because of deficiencies in the operating rooms’ air handling and purification systems.

Children’s public-relations manager Alyse Bernal wrote in an email that three patients were infected last year and three this year. The patient who died developed the infection in 2018.

“We are deeply saddened that one of our patients died after developing an Aspergillus infection in 2018,” the email reads. “Out of respect for privacy, we do not share details about specific patient cases. We want to reiterate that the risk of developing an infection for patients is very low.”

The hospital notes that a number of improvements were made and actions taken since that time. They include the installation and testing of a new humidification system, the decommissioning of the hospital’s previous air handling and purification system, as well as the sealing of potential air leaks in all of the hospital’s operating rooms.