Skip Navigation LinksHome > May 2014 - Volume 33 - Issue 5 > Mucormycosis Outbreak Associated With Hospital Linens
Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal:
doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000000261
Original Studies

Mucormycosis Outbreak Associated With Hospital Linens

Duffy, Jonathan MD, MPH*†; Harris, Julie PhD, MPH; Gade, Lalitha M Pharm; Sehulster, Lynne PhD; Newhouse, Emily MD, CM§; O’Connell, Heather PhD; Noble-Wang, Judith PhD; Rao, Carol ScD, MS; Balajee, S. Arunmozhi PhD; Chiller, Tom MD, MPH

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Background: Mucormycosis is an invasive fungal infection with a high fatality rate. We investigated an outbreak of mucormycosis in a pediatric hospital to determine routes of pathogen transmission from the environment and prevent additional infections.

Methods: A case was defined as a hospital-onset illness consistent with mucormycosis, confirmed by culture or histopathology. Case-patient medical records were reviewed for clinical course and exposure to items and locations within the hospital. Environmental samples were collected from air and surfaces. Fungal isolates collected from case-patients and the environmental samples were identified using DNA sequencing.

Results: Five case-patients had hospital-associated cutaneous mucormycosis over an 11-month period; all subsequently died. Three case-patients had conditions known to be associated with susceptibility to mucormycosis, while 2 had cardiac conditions with persistent acidosis. The cases occurred on several different wards throughout the hospital, and hospital linens were the only exposure identified as common to the case-patients. Rhizopus species were recovered from 26 (42%) of 62 environmental samples from clean linens and associated areas and from 1 (4%) of 25 samples from nonlinen-related items. Case-patients were infected with Rhizopus delemar, which was also isolated from cultures of clean linens and clean linen delivery bins from the off-site laundry facility.

Conclusions: Hospital linens were identified as a vehicle that carried R. delemar into contact with susceptible patients. Fungal species identification using DNA-based methods is useful for corroborating epidemiologic links in hospital outbreak investigations. Hospital linens should be laundered, packaged, shipped and stored in a manner that minimizes exposure to environmental contaminants.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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