Department of Health issues statement on CDC preliminary report regarding infection cluster at UPMC

Today, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Karen Murphy issued a statement on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) preliminary report on an infection cluster found at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

In September 2015, the Department of Health asked the CDC to investigate a cluster of four cases of mucormycosis, a rare infection caused by a group of environmental molds. The infections occurred over the course of a year among organ transplant recipients at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). These infections are not spread person to person and are usually acquired through inhaling mold spores in the air. Transplant patients are at increased risk of infection because their immune systems have been suppressed or weakened.

The on-site investigation conducted by the CDC in collaboration with the state Department of Health and Allegheny County Department of Health was completed on October 7. No additional infections were identified, and no single source has thus far been found to account for all four reported cases.

Three of the four infected patients spent a significant amount of their hospitalizations in the same intensive care unit room. The room was known as a "negative pressure room," which is designed to draw air from outside the room into the room and may have exposed patients to mold spores that were present in the surrounding environment. Environmental testing of the room by the CDC team identified some common environmental molds but no mucormycetes. The unit in which the room was located had already been closed at the time of the investigation and was undergoing remediation to address any potential mold sources that limited the testing that could be performed.

UPMC has either completed or is continuing to address the recommendations made by the CDC, such as conducting ongoing monitoring for mold. The Department of Health also will monitor the hospital closely for further mold infections as prevention efforts continue. The CDC said it will release the final report on the case in the summer of 2016.


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