Fungus find sparks infection worries in cancer centre
One thousand patients of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre may be at risk of infection after fungal spores created by a water leak were detected.PT11M58S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2dtjd 620 349 February 4, 2013
One thousand patients of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre may be at risk of infection after fungal spores created by a water leak were detected in clinics last month.
But in an effort to dry the water-affected areas using fans, the spores and dust were blown through, exposing people to possible infection.
The Austin Hospital, of which the Olivia Newton-John centre is part, is making contact with the 1000 people who have been in the affected areas between January 17, when the leak occurred, and Friday.
The hospital's director of infectious diseases, Lindsay Grayson, said that there was only a "small potential" that people would become sick.
"This poses a theoretical risk only to patients who have weakened immune systems," he told ABC Radio.
He said the areas affected were the day oncology and the day outpatients clinics.
"I would be amazed if even one [patient] got an infection from this," Professor Grayson said.
The leak occurred on January 17, and in one of the twice-weekly air quality tests on January 24, the results of fungal culture testing were eight to 10 times higher than expected, he said.
Patients particularly vulnerable were those whose white blood-cell counts were low, such as leukaemia patients, he said.
Not one patient had yet become ill but if they were to, it would not happen until next week, Professor Grayson said. Typical symptoms include coughing and fever.
Professor Grayson said "very detailed cleaning" had occurred over the weekend and he was confident that the centre was now clean.
Anyone who believes they may have been affected can phone The Austin hospital on 9496 5000.