Hospital Patients Die After Contracting Fungal Infection Linked to Pigeon Droppings – Article by EMSL Analytical on

EMSL Analytical offers rapid DNA-based test methods to identify Cryptococcus neoformans and other microbial pathogens from environmental samples.

The Guardian published a report earlier this year about the deaths of two hospital patients in Scotland. The two are believed to have become infected after inhaling a type of fungus known as Cryptococcus. According to the article, an investigation has been launched and the likely source of the fungus was from a machine room in the building that contained pigeon droppings.

The primary species of Cryptococcus that causes illness in humans and animals is Cryptococcus neoformans. It can be found throughout much of the world and is typically located in soil, on decaying wood, in tree hollows or in bird droppings reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The infection is known as cryptococcosis and the CDC states the disease usually affects the lungs or the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), but it can also affect other parts of the body. Brain infections due to Cryptococcus are called cryptococcal meningitis. C. neoformans infections are rare in people who are otherwise healthy, most cases occur in people who have weakened immune systems.

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“Patients in hospitals and healthcare centers worldwide that have a weakened or suppressed immune system can be at risk of developing cryptococcosis if exposed to C. neoformans in the air they breathe,” said Jason Dobranic, Ph.D., Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Exposure to pigeon or other bird droppings is a potential hazard for these types of patients. At EMSL we offer rapid DNA-based test methods to detect C. neoformans from environmental samples. Proactive testing in sensitive environments can help prevent infections. Testing is also instrumental for pinpointing the source of an outbreak if one has already occurred and for post remediation testing to assess efforts to clean and disinfect areas that were once contaminated.”