Dust from a building site outside a major hospital may have sparked a deadly fungal outbreak, according to Queensland’s Chief Health Officer.
The cluster has caused complications for five transplant patients at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane – and two of them have tragically died.
GP Dr Muhammad Hussain, 55, was given a second chance at life when he received a heart transplant in May, however he quickly fell ill after the operation and passed away on September 20.
Fellow heart transplant recipient Adam Retmock, 45, was also the victim of a fungal infection that lead to his death on Friday.
With the families demanding answers, the state’s Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said on Wednesday that the construction of a new car park at the hospital may have stirred up soil which then found its way into the transplant unit.
‘It’s certainly one of the things that’s being investigated,’ Dr Gerrard told reporters.
‘These fungi exist in the environment all around us in the natural environment, so trying to work out where individual patients get their infection from is notoriously difficult.’
Dr Muhammad Hussain (pictured centre) died on September 20 after complications from a heart transplant he received at the hospital and is suspected to be the first casualty of the fungal infection
Adam Retmock (pictured) who also fell victim to a fungal infection only found out about the infection while he was watching the news in hospital after receiving his transplant
Officials are also looking at they way the hospital is cleaned as part of their investigations.
Dr Hussain’s grieving daughter Muskaan Hussain, 23, has demanded to know why her family and others were not told of the infections until it was reported in the media.
‘We were contacted by a doctor at the Prince Charles hospital hours before it was revealed in the media,’ she told Seven News.
She said the hospital’s communication ‘was lacking quite a bit’.
‘I felt they weren’t as upfront as I would expect them to be,’ she said.
‘I feel like I still have a lot of questions.’
Mr Retmock’s family also said he only learnt of the potentially fatal infection while watching the news in hospital following his transplant and that he had not been told by his doctors.
The cluster has caused complications for five transplant patients at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane – two of them have tragically died
Muskaan Hussain said the hospital’s communication to the family left a lot to be desired
‘He should have found out from the hospital because he was a very brave person,’ his wife said.
‘I would like for those other families still involved to be perhaps better communicated with and to have all the information laid out more clearly to them.
‘I’ll miss him forever.’
A hospital spokesperson said reviews of the cases who acquired fungal infections were in their ‘early stages’.
‘Despite extensive testing, no link has been established between the fungal infections identified in the five heart transplant patients and the hospital,’ they said.
The state’s Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said on Wednesday, the construction of a new carpark at the hospital may have stirred up soil which found it’s way into the transplant unit
Adam Retmock, 45, was one of five patients at The Prince Charles Hospital affected by the infection cluster and the second to have succumbed to the illness
‘Transplant patients are some of our most vulnerable patients and can be susceptible to various illnesses and infections in the community, especially once they return home.’
All of the affected patients were placed on prophylactic antifungal treatment.
Early analysis identified four different strains of fungal infection among the five patients, one of which was the strain found at The Prince Charles Hospital.
One transplant patient with that strain remains in the hospital.