Two patients died after contracting a pigeon feces infection in the hospital



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Two patients died after contracting a fungal infection associated with pigeon feces in a Glasgow hospital.

The NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGCC) have launched an investigation into the death of one patient at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, with the cause still to be determined.

The health council said the second affected patient – the elderly – died of an unrelated problem.

Control measures were taken immediately after two cases of Cryptococcus were detected.

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A spokesman said, "Our thoughts are with family at this difficult time.

"Because of patient confidentiality, we cannot share further details of the two cases.

"This organism is not dangerous for most people and rarely causes disease in humans."

This infection is caused by inhaling the fungus Cryptococcus, mainly found in soil and pigeon feces.

The NHSGCC said sources that might be found in non-public areas away from the ward and their waste were removed.

The health council said a small number of children and adult patients who were vulnerable to infection received treatment and this proved effective.

Teresa Inkster, NHSGCC's main consultant for infection control, said: "Cryptococcus lives in environments throughout the world. This rarely causes infection in humans.

"People can become infected after breathing microscopic fungi, although most people who are exposed to the fungus have never been sick of it.

"There are no further cases since the control measures took effect.

"In the meantime we continue to monitor air quality and these results are being analyzed.

"This remains our priority to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff."

As an extra precaution, the health board has installed portable HEPA filter units in certain areas, which filter the air continuously.

The NHSGCC said that during the investigation, separate problems arose with sealants in several bathrooms.

Improvements are underway and the maintenance team is working to fix the problem as soon as possible with minimum disruption, he said.

The health council added that as a further precautionary measure, a certain group of patients were moved inside the hospital because of clinical diagnosis and ongoing care.

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The shadow worker secretary of Scottish Labor Monica Lennon said: "This is our tragic news and thoughts with family and friends of two people who have died.

"Patients and the wider community need to be convinced because the problem is pressing that this unit is safe.

"The Scottish government and health council must ensure that appropriate investigations are proceeding quickly and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman must renew parliament as soon as possible."

Glasgow Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said: "This is a worrying revelation, and that will cause concern among staff, patients, and families.

"It is very important that this situation is controlled immediately before increasing.

"Urgent investigation is needed to get answers that will be asked by the family."

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