Over the past seven months, Saskatoon Health Region’s hematology program has seen an increased rate of fungal infections within a small group of immunocompromised patients on the Oncology Unit at Royal University Hospital.

Saskatchewan map Public domain image/John Fowler
Saskatchewan map
Public domain image/John Fowler

To date, six patients at various stages of cancer treatment have been infected. The specific fungal etiology(s) have not been noted.

The hematology program uses quality control practices to closely monitor infection rates. While infection isn’t unusual for this particular patient population, the increased rate of lung infection is higher than expected and is being investigated to ensure patient safety.

“At first, we thought this could just be an anomaly,” says Dr. Mark Bosch, Clinical Lead of Hematology with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. “However, when the infection rates continued to rise, we knew we had to investigate further.”

The Region has spoken with all patients who are at risk for this type of infection and will continue to provide information as it becomes known.

The Region is investigating the potential causes for the infection increase, including but not limited to potential environmental factors. Air quality testing has been performed as part of the Region’s evaluation and preliminary results do not indicate any abnormalities in air quality. The Region will continue to investigate and rule out potential contributing factors.

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