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The CDC finds humidifier is the cause of deadly mold contamination at Seattle Children’s Hospital

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that a humidifier is the cause of a deadly cause of Aspergillus mold infections at Seattle Children’s. The humidifier had not been used for a decade.

Aspergillus mold contamination spread throughout hospital rooms at Seattle Children’s and a humidifier that was not turned on form more than 10 years has been determined to be the cause. It was turned back on in 2018 and 2019. During the decade that it sat idle, Aspergillus mold collected inside of it. When it was turned back on, the mold spread throughout hospital rooms and infected at least 14 young patients. Six of those patients perished. One of the patients was an infant who was being treated at the hospital. The infant was diagnosed with a mold infection and died as a result of the illness.

In a statement to the public, Seattle Children’s said that it believed that Aspergillus mold was spreading through the ventilation system in some of the hospital’s operating rooms.

The report issued by the CDC is more detailed. It says, “A humidifier that was part of the operating room suite’s air handling unit #1 had been turned on for a short period before each of the two disease clusters…”

In 2018, there was a reference to an Aspergillus cluster, during which three patients had been infected by mold and one of those patients perished. In 2019, several additional patients were also infected by Aspergillus, one of them being Elizabeth Hutt, an infant, who succumbed to the infection.

The CDC report also says, “This humidifier had reportedly not been used for over a decade previously, and the droplet size produced by the humidifier was too large for complete diffusion within the HVAC system, allowing for condensation.”

The report from the CDC goes on to say, “Moisture from the humidifier may have been trapped in this material, which could provide suitable habitat for mold growth,”

In response to the findings, Seattle Children’s released a statement, which read:

“Seattle Children’s invited experts from agencies, including the CDC, to visit the hospital… During their visit, the experts toured our facilities, assessed our safety protocols, and met with representatives from the teams involved in our Aspergillus mitigation efforts. Following the visit, we received a technical assistance report from the CDC with recommendations related to our operating rooms. Since receiving the CDC’s report, we have continued to make comprehensive improvements to our ORs to maintain a safe environment for our patients.”

Seattle Children’s filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the release of state health records that were related to the mold. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) records are “confidential and sensitive”, said Seattle Children’s lawyer Adrian Urquhart Winder.

Mold Inspection & Testing Seattle has performed countless mold assessments in facilities throughout the city. We strongly urge Seattle Children’s to perform regular mold testing to prevent future mold infections that could potentially become deadly. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 206.607.6895.

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