UPMC Stops Transplants Following Mold Outbreak

Sep 23, 2015

Following a mold outbreak last week that infected four transplant patients at UPMC Presbyterian and Montefiore, the hospital system has temporarily halted their transplant program. Three of the four patients have since died, although it’s not been confirmed whether the infections were the culprit.  Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja explained to Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer that mold is particularly difficult to contain because it’s so easy to spread.

“It’s something that is very, very hard to get rid of and is ubiquitous in the environment,” Adalja said. “And it can, in certain instances, get into hospitals.”

The mold found at the UPMC facilities was the fungus’ most common variety, “mucor.”  The material is nearly impossible to detect, according to Adalja, because it can be carried on almost everything.

Adalja believes the hospital took every measure they could, and commends investigators for their quick turnaround.  He says while UMPC’s transplant program is one of the most prominent in the nation, they’re still not immune to outbreaks.

“You have to expect that there’s going to be some mold infections in transplant patients all over the world because of the nature of the procedure that they’re undergoing,” Adalja explained.

Going forward, UPMC can be expected to reevaluate their notification process for outbreaks.  They’ll also be looking at construction materials and sanitization methods used in their facilities.

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