Deadly mold outbreak at Seattle Children's prompts new infection-reporting requirements

Healthcare facilities in King County, Washington, soon will be required to report hospital associated Aspergillus infections, officials announced Nov. 22, after 14 mold-related surgical site infections and six patient deaths at Seattle Children's Hospital, according to KOMO News.

Currently, only outbreaks of two or more mold cases in healthcare settings are required to be reported, while singular mold cases are not, Jeffery Duchin, MD, the public health officer for Seattle and King County, told KOMO News.

County health officials were made aware of the mold-related infections in 2018, internal emails between officials and Seattle Children's revealed, after the hospital told officials that some infections dated to 2001.

Health officials did not publicly announce the mold-related infections at the time because they were "isolated cases, often separated by long periods of time apparently unrelated, and not known to be a part of ongoing outbreak," Dr. Duchin told KOMO News.

Mold was detected in three operating rooms Nov. 10, closing the hospital's operating rooms for a second time this year. The hospital has confirmed one surgical site infection due to the mold and is looking into other potential infections.

It is now suspected that an air-handling system serving the operating rooms is to blame for some of the earlier infections, a system Dr. Duchin said public health officials should have examined earlier.

Seattle Children's had no comment on the upcoming mandate, KOMO News said. 

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