With the addition of two cases of mucormycosis infection in patients at Hong Kong’s Queen Mary Hospital during the past few weeks, this brings the number of cases to five this year at the hospital, prompting an investigation, according to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority (computer translated).

Rhizopus fungus Public domain image/Agong1
Rhizopus fungus
Public domain image/Agong1

Two patients have died after being infected with the fungus, Rhizopus; however, it is unclear if this was the cause of death.

The hospital has launched an investigation into the incident. Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said today investigators initially suspected the fungal infections were related to bed sheets and patient’s clothes because the fungus was found on the skin of all five patients.

The five stayed in different wards so bodily contact was not likely to be the source of transmission, he said. In some of the cases the fungus was also found in the respiratory tract of the patients.

Zygomycosis, or mucormycosis, is an acute fungal infection from a number of genera of molds, Rhizopus species being the most frequently encountered.

Infections with these fungi typically cause disease that is rapidly progressive, destructive and associated with a high fatality rate of 50% of higher.

It is most prevalent in those with a weakened immune system or other debilitating disease like diabetes. These fungi have an affinity for blood vessels, and cause thrombosis, infarction and tissue necrosis.

It is not communicable from person-to-person.

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