Date
28 July 2017
Shum Wan Laundry (inset) has come under scrutiny following a fungal outbreak at Queen Mary Hospital. Photos: DBC
Shum Wan Laundry (inset) has come under scrutiny following a fungal outbreak at Queen Mary Hospital. Photos: DBC

Fungal infections probe at hospital focuses on laundry provider

An investigation launched recently into the spread of mucormycosis, a form of fungal infection, at Queen Mary Hospital has seen the focus fall on a laundry contractor. 

Following a preliminary probe and evaluation, hospital authorities have suggested that the infections may have stemmed from patients’ bed sheets and pillowcases, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Tests are being conducted to trace the source of the fungus, with laundry facilities and storage warehouses coming under particular scrutiny.

According to an internal publication of Queen Mary, an outside firm — Shum Wan Laundry — has been providing laundry services for the hospital since July 1, 2012.

The Hospital Authority is investigating the infrastructure as well as the laundry procedures of the third-party service provider.

Shum Wan Laundry is said to provide services for 12 hospitals and clinics in Hong Kong, including Kowloon Hospital, St. John Hospital, Wong Chuk Hang Hospital and the MacLehose Medical Rehabilitation Centre.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiology expert at the University of Hong Kong, said patients could have been infected with mucormycosis by using tainted bed sheets or clothes.

Hospitals should halt services from the concerned laundry supplier for now, he said.

Queen Mary Hospital has reported five mucormycosis infections since the beginning of the year, including two over the past three weeks.

As a fungal genus, mucor is commonly found in soil, digestive systems, plant surfaces, and rotten vegetable matter.

The infection could cause thrombosis (blood clotting) and damage human tissues.

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