Mold Infestation Kills 1, Closes Operating Rooms at Seattle Children's Hospital

A mold infestation at Seattle Children's Hospital has killed one and sickened five others.
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A mold infestation at Seattle Children's Hospital has killed one and sickened five others.

The hospital said Tuesday that its operating rooms were closed indefinitely in late May because of the infestation, which has been off and on for a year, according to The Seattle Times.

The infestation, a hospital spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News, is likely due to "deficiencies in our air handlers, including gaps in the air filtration system that we believe to be key contributing factors to the air quality issue."

The fatal patient died last year. Two others were infected in 2018 and three were infected this year, according to the hospital. 

“The six patients who developed Aspergillus infections were at higher risk of infection due to the types of procedures they had,” the hospital spokesperson said. “We are deeply saddened that one of these patients died.”

A couple of the operating rooms were closed last year after mold was detected, but they were reopened after "we took appropriate corrective actions," the hospital spokesperson said.

However, the mold came back this year, prompting the hospital to initially close four operating rooms, and then the remaining 10 operating rooms. 

As a result of the infestation, an estimated 1,000 surgeries have been postponed, while others have been moved to nearby hospital. 

Aspergillus is a common type of mold that is found both inside and outdoors. Many come into contact with it daily without issue. However, those with weakened immune systems can be adversely affected. 

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