Infections by pigeon droppings investigated at Glasgow hospital

Control measures were immediately put in place at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after two cases were detected. Picture: John Devlin
Control measures were immediately put in place at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after two cases were detected. Picture: John Devlin
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Two patients are being treated for a fungal infection linked to pigeon droppings at a hospital.

Control measures were immediately put in place at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after two cases of Cryptococcus were detected.

The infection is caused by inhaling the fungus Cryptococcus, primarily found in soil and pigeon droppings.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGCC) said that a likely source was found in a non-public area away from wards and the droppings were removed.

The health board said that the small number of child and adult patients who are vulnerable to this infection are receiving medication to prevent potential infection which has proved effective.

Teresa Inkster, NHSGCC lead consultant for infection control, said: “Cryptococcus lives in the environment throughout the world. It rarely causes infection in humans.

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“People can become infected with it after breathing in the microscopic fungi, although most people who are exposed to it never get sick from it.

“There have been no further cases since the control measures were put in place.

“In the meantime we are continuing to monitor the air quality and these results are being analysed.

“It remains our priority to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff.”

The two patients with the infection are said to be responding to treatment.

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

NHSGCC said that during the course of investigations a separate issue arose with the sealant in some of the shower rooms.

Repairs are under way and the maintenance team is working to fix the issue as quickly as possible with minimum disruption.

The health board said that as a further precaution, a specific group of patients are being moved within the hospital due to their clinical diagnosis and ongoing treatment.