In-hospital source of airborne Penicillium species spores

A. J. Streifel, P. P. Stevens, F. S. Rhame

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Between 16 July and 1 October 1984, prospectively monitored corridor air samples from a bone marrow transplant station revealed a marked increase in airborne thermotolerant Penicillium spores. Simultaneous cultures of outside air showed lower spore counts, which were unchanged before, during, and after corridor outburst, establishing that the source was within the hospital. Although the corridor was equipped with recirculating high-efficiency particulate air filtration units which provided 16 air changes per h, the mean corridor air count rose to 64.4 thermotolerant Penicillium CFU/m3 during the outburst period. The in-hospital source was ultimately traced to rotting cabinet wood enclosing a sink with leaking pipes in the medication room. It produced approximately 5.5 x 105 thermotolerant Penicillium CFU/h. In a patient room supplied by corridor air, an in-room recirculating high-efficiency particulate air filter reduced the mean thermotolerant Penicillium count to 2.2 CFU/m3. No patient illness or colonization occurred as a result of this event, although the cabinet wood, after sterilization, was shown to sustain abundant growth of Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus flavus. Wet organic substrates should be avoided in hospital areas with immunosuppressed patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987
Externally publishedYes


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