EVERETT -- A number of ear, nose and throat patients at the Everett Clinic health center recently received a slightly off-putting letter notifying them they may have been exposed to a fungus that lives in nasal cavities.
According to Everett Clinic's Spokeswoman April Zepeda, 2,200 patients at the Everett Clinic may have been exposed to Acremonium, a common, non-threatening fungus, between March 2012 and Nov. 21, 2012.
The problem was discovered in 2012 when a higher-than-normal number of patients were infected with the fungus. A clinic investigation determined that clinical devices used to spray nasal anesthetic in patients were contaminated with the fungus. The reused nasal spray devices were cleaned with alcohol between patients, Zepeda said, but the cleaning did not prevent the fungus. The clinic has since moved to disposable nasal devices to "eliminate the risk of future contamination."
Most patients who were exposed to the fungus are at a very low risk for infection, the clinic said, and clinical infections are extremely rare. But people with a weakened immune system could develop a sinus infection and other complications.
The clinic believes it contacted all patients who were exposed to the fungus.