SEATTLE -- Seattle Children’s Hospital is again coping with mold in its operating rooms that has persisted at the hospital for nearly 20 years and has been linked to seven deaths.
There are no known new illnesses connected to the latest discovery of Aspergillus, The Seattle Times reported. The hospital reported the detection of “low-levels” of Aspergillus to the state Department of Health earlier this month, attributing it to an issue with its ventilation system, said spokeswoman Jessica Baggett.
The agency said the mold was discovered by routine air-testing done by the hospital. The agency hasn’t decided whether to proceed with an unannounced investigation, Baggett said.
Children’s didn’t identify the mold as Aspergillus, contrary to what state health officials described, the hospital said this week. It was discovered in some of the hospital’s operating rooms and an equipment storage room by a daily air test.
“Daily testing has not detected any Aspergillus fumigatus spores, which is the species of Aspergillus associated with our previously confirmed” infections, hospital spokesperson Katherine Porada wrote in an email.
Aspergillus is a common mold that most people regularly breathe without getting sick, but hospital patients, especially patients with lung disease or weakened immune systems — particularly organ- or stem-cell transplant patients — are at higher risk of developing Aspergillosis.
Since 2001, seven patients have died and 14 patients have had Aspergillus infections. Last fall, Children’s Chief Executive Jeff Sperring said they only recently connected the issues dating back two decades to problems with the air-filtration system serving its operating rooms.
During the past year, the hospital has installed a new air-handling unit and put high-efficiency particulate air — or HEPA — filters in its 14 operating rooms.