Study reveals hospital linens helped zygomycosis infections spread during outbreak

Subpar laundering and storage of hospital pillow cases, bed sheets and draw sheets contributed to massive linen contamination and a zygomycosis infection outbreak in 2015 in one Hong Kong teaching hospital examined in a Clinical Infectious Diseases study.

The hospital studied is located in Hong Kong, but the outcome of the research is something all healthcare facilities may want to take into consideration.

Lead researcher Vincent C.C. Cheng, MD, and his colleagues used air samplers, sponge swabs and replicate organism detection and counting to identify collect environmental samples between June 2 and July 18 of last year.

During that time, six immunosuppressed patients developed pulmonary and/or skin-related zygomycosis infections by a spore-forming mold, Rhizopus microsporus, through inhalation or contact with contaminated linen items.

Additionally, they found 61 percent of environmental samples and 100 percent of the air samples were positive for the fungi zygomycetes, which can cause zygomycosis infections, suggesting heavy environmental contamination.

Ultimately, the researchers suggest hospitals use regular microbiological testing to ensure linen items are "hygienically clean."



More articles on hospital linens and laundry:
Improving laundry process can help fight hospital infections: 7 best practices
Infographic: What lies beneath your hospital linen?
3 guidelines for handling hospital linens used by Ebola patients

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