Grandmother fights for life after getting hospital bug ‘from pigeons’

Grandmother fights for life after getting hospital bug ‘from pigeons’

February 14, 2019 By mediabest

Grandmother, 63, fights for life after catching lung infection at hospital where two patients died during bacterial outbreaks blamed on nesting pigeons

  • Mito Kaur, 63, picked up mucor bacteria while treated for flu-like symptoms 
  • Ten-year-old boy and 73-year-old woman died at same hospital in recent months
  • Deaths at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital were linked to pigeon droppings

Mito Kaur, 63, (pictured) picked up the mucor bacteria while being treated for flu-like symptoms at the £1billion Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow

A grandmother is fighting for her life after contracting a fungal lung infection at a Scots hospital where two other patients died during bacterial outbreaks linked to pigeon droppings. 

Mito Kaur, 63, picked up the mucor bacteria while being treated for flu-like symptoms at the £1billion Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

The disclosure comes only weeks after it was revealed an unnamed ten-year-old boy and a 73-year-old woman died at the same hospital after contracting the cryptococcus infection, linked to pigeons nesting in the building’s roof. 

Since December last year, five people have died from hospital infections across Scotland’s largest city.

The family of shop worker Mrs Kaur have now criticised hospital staff, claiming they only found out about her condition from reports of a fungal outbreak in a press release on the hospital’s website last month.

But a spokesman for the hospital insisted the family were told four days before the press release was published. Mrs Kaur’s daughter Raj, 41, told the Daily Record: ‘I thought surely that can’t be mum. Surely they would have told us, but they hadn’t.

‘When we asked the doctors, they said it was mucor and it was potentially fatal. We were in a complete state of shock. It was a terrible way to find out.’ Mrs Kaur’s case follows the announcement that a Holyrood committee is to examine hospital safety.

She was admitted to the hospital on January 7 with flu-like symptoms and pain in her chest. She was fitted with a tube into her windpipe when her breathing became laboured. The family claim they were only then told about the fungal infection.

By February 8, the grandmother-of-nine’s family were told she would certainly die, but yesterday her son Bobby said she was conscious and responding to questions by blinking.

He said: ‘We don’t want a cover-up. We want to know exactly what is causing our mother to be so ill.’

The case comes after a ten-year-old boy and a 73-year-old woman died from an infection linked to pigeon droppings. Pictured: A filthy chair that was left in a hospital smoking area for three months  

Pigeons roost on top of the neurology building at the £842million hospital in Glasgow today

Lawyer Aamer Anwar, representing the family, said: ‘They appreciate professionals have tried desperately to save their mother’s life but this hospital’s management stands accused of failing in its duty of care and presiding over a culture of secrecy.’

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said the family were told of the infection before the press release.

He added: ‘We are sorry the family feel our communications have been inadequate. Our clinical team continue to offer support and explain the patient’s clinical care.’

The Crown Office is currently investigating the deaths of the boy, 10, and woman, 73, at the flagship hospital.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs last month urged MSPs on Holyrood’s Health Committee to investigate, claiming infections were spreading as though in ‘Victorian times’ at the facility.

The committee agreed to look into the matter and has now announced its investigation will be into ‘the scale of health problems linked to the healthcare environment in Scotland’.

  • Pictured: Disgusting chair covered in pigeon droppings at…

    Revealed: Health chiefs ‘were warned of roosting pigeons’ at…

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As part of its remit, the committee will explore what risks exist and how these should be reported and addressed.

It wants to hear the views of healthcare workers and others affected by these issues, with a formal evidence session to take place on March 19.

Scottish Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald, the committee convener, said: ‘Like everyone across Scotland, I was deeply troubled by the nature of the deaths at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

‘There are a number of ongoing investigations into what happened but this raises wider issues about the safety and control of healthcare environments in Scotland.

‘The committee is determined to understand how standards are upheld and consider existing protocols in place.

‘We are also going to look at the adequacy of systems and processes for reporting and controlling outbreaks when they do occur.

‘This is why we want to hear from healthcare professionals from across Scotland.’

An investigation is currently underway into conditions at the £1billion flagship hospital in Glasgow 

Responding to the development, Mr Briggs said: ‘This is an essential investigation and I’m glad there’s been little time wasted in getting it under way.

What is cryptococcus and who is at risk? 

Cryptococcus is a yeast-like fungal infection found in soil and bird faeces that can infect humans who breathe it in.

A computer illustration of cryptococcus

The infection causes symptoms similar to those faced by people with pneumonia, including coughing, fever and headaches.

Cryptococcus, which normally affects people with weak immune systems, can even impact their mental wellbeing.

But most people who become infected to do not get sick – and it cannot be spread between people.

Pigeons can also transmit the fungal infection of histoplasmosis to humans, as well as bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella – and even a form of encephalitis which can cause the brain to inflame.

But most people who are exposed to pigeons have no problems because they do not come in contact with large quantities of infected droppings.

‘The families of the victims deserve answers and so too do the patients, visitors and staff who use the hospital every day.

‘That’s exactly why the Scottish Conservatives demanded this probe take place.

‘We need to know how this was allowed to happen and what guarantees are in place that such failings won’t be repeated here or anywhere else in Scotland.’

The infection was believed to be from pigeon droppings found in a plant room on the roof of the QEUH.

Investigations have been taking place to establish how the bacteria entered a closed ventilation system.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has ordered a separate review of the design, build, handover and maintenance at the QEUH and how they contribute to ‘effective infection control’.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘As the Health Secretary has set out in Parliament, an independent expert review will look at the hospital’s design, commissioning, construction, handover and maintenance, including how these matters support effective infection prevention and any other areas considered necessary by those carrying out the review. 

‘The Health Secretary has also asked the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) to fully inspect and review this incident and to make any further recommendations they consider appropriate.

‘Any additional insights the Committee work provides will be welcome and considered carefully.’ 

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