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Aspergillosis in immunocompromised paediatric patients: associations with building hygiene, design, and indoor air.
  1. K Anderson,
  2. G Morris,
  3. H Kennedy,
  4. J Croall,
  5. J Michie,
  6. M D Richardson,
  7. B Gibson
  1. Department of Respiratory Medicine, Western Infirmary, Glasgow.


    BACKGROUND: Nosocomial aspergillosis is a well known complication of immunosuppression in cancer patients and those undergoing transplantation and has usually been associated with major building construction or demolition. An observational study is reported of the hospital environment associated with an outbreak of aspergillosis in a paediatric oncology ward. METHODS: All cases of aspergillosis were identified from the hospital records and categorised as definite or probable according to the extent of supportive clinical and laboratory findings. All relevant aspects of building ventilation, air filtration, and aerosol generation considered relevant were examined and air samples for fungi were taken in triplicate at 25 sites using a slit sampler with appropriate culture media. RESULTS: Six cases of aspergillosis were identified over one year out of the 148 patients who attended the unit - the only part of the hospital where cases were found. Examination of the building services and function suggested that the cause or source was isolated to this paediatric oncology/haematology ward and may have been attributed to a defective disposal conduit door as well as the dispersal of a contaminated aerosol from the ward vacuum cleaner which had the highest measured concentrations of Aspergillus fumigatus in or around the building (65 colony forming units (cfu)/m3 compared with 0-6 cfu/m3 elsewhere). No further cases were identified in the two years after these hygiene arrangements were changed. CONCLUSIONS: The investigation of this outbreak of nosocomial aspergillosis identified several possible sources of fungally contaminated aerosol which could have been implicated as the cause. Their modification was followed by a reduction in the incidence of further cases. Each should be incorporated as an issue of importance in hospital building design and hygiene.

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