Dirty oxygen cylinders spread black fungus

KTH doctors ask hospital board to ensure cleanliness before refilling

Our Correspondent June 05, 2021

Black fungus has been spreading through the use of unhygienic oxygen cylinders in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) hospitals which pose yet another threat alongside the deadly Covid-19 infection.

A group of doctors working at the ENT Department at Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) has written a letter to the Board of Governors (BoG) KTH informing them about the newly emerged threat.

An official of the KTH told The Express Tribune that Dr Arif Raza has written a letter to the BoG informing them that in the past two months around two dozen sinus surgeries had been performed by him out of which two patients contracted the black fungus disease during treatment of Covid-19 at the hospital.

“These two patients recovered from Covid-19 infection but then contracted black fungus due to the use of oxygen cylinders,” read the letter. The letter further stated that due to the unhygienic conditions and lack of cleanliness black fungus developed at the bottom of oxygen cylinders and these cylinders were used in the treatment of critically ill Covid-19 patients thus transmitting the disease to these patients.

“We have suggested that extreme care should be exercised during the filling of oxygen cylinders because due to the excessive use of oxygen at ICU and other high dependency wards, it could create yet another problem which will be difficult to deal with but could be controlled by means of introducing strict hygiene procedures,” said the official.

Experts and doctors have also suggested that during the filling of oxygen cylinders, the gas is passed through a water chamber and its cleanliness is also critically important because the black fungus could spread to the entire body if not checked in time.

“People living in humid conditions could contract black fungus easily,” he said.

When contacted, Secretary Health Imtiaz Hussain Shah said that special directives had been issued to all hospitals to adopt certain hygiene protocols to avoid the spread of the black fungus during the filling of oxygen cylinders.

“I would request all those who are using oxygen cylinders at homes to make sure the cylinders are properly cleaned,” he said, adding that after the alarming letter by the doctors they were taking the matter very seriously.

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