Mold can be a health hazard in many residential and commercial buildings but rarely is it deadly. Unfortunately, recently mold kills a child at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. The killer? Aspergillus, and it has caused infections in five other patients.
The hospital has closed its operating rooms, as patients are at the highest risk of infection in the operating room. This horrible tragedy that has killed one. Now, it is considered a low risk to patients. Because the ORs are closed.
The hospital knew it was having trouble with Aspergillus in its air circulation system for the past year. However, the decision-makers had been fighting the infestation with intermittent success. Some of the patients, including the one who died, were infected last year. The hospital will not reopen its ORs until all threats of the mold are remediated.
Aspergillus infections typically happen in the lungs. It can cause people to have fevers, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. This form of mold exposure is treated with antifungal medication. However, sometimes the “fungal balls” have to be removed surgically.
You cannot avoid Aspergilli, and it is common for it to occur in air vents. People inhale it every day with no problems. A weakened immune system can increase the risk of infection and increase the effects of infection. Thankfully it is not common that mold kills a child.
While mold is common to all environments, it is very common to see it build up in air handlers. Because of condensation and moisture that can occur there. So, it is kind of a paradox. Because proper airflow is a step to remove mold risk. However, the air handlers that create flow add to the risk. Seattle Children’s Hospital has replaced one air handling system. Also, they sealed its leaks and added to cleaning protocols to prevent any more deaths.
To call this child’s death unfortunate barely begins to describe this terrible tragedy. But there is something we can learn from it. Mold can cause health problems, and it can be deadly. The publicizing of this hospital’s mold infestation should serve as a reminder. To all people that mold is something to take seriously. Mold is everywhere, and it will infest any moist, stagnant area if given the proper growing accommodations.