Two patients in Scotland who died recently had contracted a fungal infection linked to pigeon droppings at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. While one patient’s cause of death is undetermined, and the other died of an unrelated issue, officials have put infection control measures in place, and vulnerable patients are receiving preventative medication, according to Sky News.
The infection, identified as Cryptococcus, primarily infects immunosuppressed individuals and is transmitted through exposure to contaminated soil or bird droppings, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Symptoms can include fever, headache, neck stiffness, malaise, photophobia, nausea and vomiting. Though coma and death are rare, it can occur.
Hospital officials said the likely source of infection was found in an area closed to the public and removed, Sky News reported.
“Our thoughts are with the families at this distressing time,” the spokesperson said, according to the news outlet. “Due to patient confidentiality, we cannot share further details of the two cases. The organism is harmless to the vast majority of people and rarely causes disease in humans.”
The spokesperson said that no additional cases had been reported, and that hospital officials are monitoring the air quality.