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Linens ‘likely’ source of mold outbreak in hospital

Linen can be a cause for mold, and can prove dangerous especially when it comes to hospital linen.

A report published in CNN cited mold outbreak in Pittsburgh hospitals way back in 2014 was due to the linen provider. These findings were shared in emails with CNN. This information is now being widely discussed across the world. Here is the whole story:

UPMC informed the Allegheny County Health Department, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that its independent testing led UPMC officials to believe the linens were the likely source of the outbreak, according to the emails.

Six deaths since October 2014 have been linked to heavy mold growth on linens at three UPMC hospitals – Presbyterian, Montefiore and Shadyside. The new emails reveal additional testing seeking to pinpoint the source of the outbreak.

Mold at two Pittsburgh hospitals linked to 5 deaths

Environmental samples were taken on February 21, 22 and April 21, 2016, at UPMC Presbyterian and Montefiore hospitals and at the laundry facilities.

A whole genome sequencing report by an independent laboratory based on these specimens “[suggests] that fungi from the linen provider have been brought into the [Presbyterian University Hospital] laundry,” according to the report provided in the email.

Mucor is a species of mucormycosis, which are fungal spores commonly found outdoors. However, they can cause a rare and sometimes fatal
fungal infection in patients who are immunocompromised.

Hospital linen is required to be “hygienically clean,” according to the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council. That means linens are not sterile, but in a clean state, free of pathogens in sufficient numbers to minimize risk of infection, and the clean textiles are not inadvertently contaminated before use.

A whole genome sequencing report compares environmental samples from which the DNA has been extracted and sequenced to show the fingerprint of the sample at a high resolution, according to Dr. Barun Mathema, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“Nobody is 100% sure, if you read carefully, there will always be a bit of a wiggle room caveat,” said Mathema. In general, it is rare that epidemiological testing comes to an absolutely conclusive result because of variables that come into play when epidemiologists attempt to replicate the exact environment in which the case occurred.

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