Several operating rooms have been shut down in a Washington children’s hospital because of mold.
Aspergillus mold was detected by air tests last week in operating rooms and equipment storage rooms at the main campus of Seattle Children’s Hospital, according to a statement from the hospital.
“Though we believe the risk to our patients is very low, we will be contacting our surgical patients who may have been exposed,” the statement said.
“Patient safety is our top priority, and we are taking this situation very seriously.”
The hospital said it is working with an outside industrial hygienist to locate the source and clear the rooms. The detection was also reported to the Washington State Department of Health.
Aspergillus is a common mold 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.
Some surgical cases have been postponed or moved to the hospital’s Bellevue campus until the rooms are clear, the hospital’s statement said.
Mold 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 mold.
Those who died of the infection were transplant patients. The report showed that both the hospital and the facility that handled the hospital’s linens tested positive for mold.