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Two patients die after virus hits ward at Beatson cancer hospital

Ward at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre closed after seven patients test positive for virus

Virus: Seven patients at Beatson test positive for virus.
Virus: Seven patients at Beatson test positive for virus. ©Phidbruy Creative Commons (Cropped)

Two patients have died after a virus outbreak on a ward at a Scots cancer hospital.

A ward has been closed at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow after seven patients were hit with a virus which can lead to pneumonia. Two of those affected died this week with a third person seriously ill. 

The seven patients tested positive for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), which is a viral illness which normally resembles a cold. Two staff have also tested positive. 

Four patients initially contracted the virus before the others on the ward were tested. Three of those tested positive.

Although not the cause of the deaths, the virus was a contributory factor in the deterioration of the two deceased patients, a spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed.

The health board said one of the patients who died had significant underlying health issues. This patient was extremely unwell as a result of their health issues and RSV "was not the cause of their death".

The second patient who died had been discharged from the Beatson after being assessed as clinically fit but their condition deteriorated and they were admitted to another hospital where they passed away.

A third patient, who is giving cause for concern, has been transferred to the intensive care unit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

The patient's condition is described a stable. Two patients remain in the ward who have tested positive but are not giving "any cause for concern as a result of the RSV", the health board confirmed.

A further two patients have already been discharged home and two members of staff have been sent home after also testing positive.

RSV is particularly prevalent at this time of year and is the most common germ that causes lung and airway infections in infants and young children.

Most infants have had this infection by the age of two although it can re-occur. In young children and adults with compromised immune systems the illness can be more severe and cause pneumonia.

Dr Teresa Inkster, infection control doctor NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "Initially four patients tested positive for RSV, one was community acquired and the other three were healthcare acquired, and appropriate infection control measures were put in place including closing the ward to new admissions.

"We also tested the other patients in the ward and a further three patients tested positive. Sadly two patients have passed away this week and our thoughts and sympathies are with both their families at this difficult time.

"One of the patients who died had significant underlying health issues. This patient was extremely unwell as a result of these significant health issues and RSV was not the cause of their death.

"The second patient who died had been discharged from the BWoSCC after being assessed as clinically fit.

"However, this patients condition subsequently deteriorated and they were admitted to a hospital outwith the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area where they sadly passed away.

"A third patient is giving cause for concern and has been transferred to the intensive care unit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, however, the patient is stable.

"Two patients remain in the ward who have tested positive but are not giving any cause for concern as a result of the RSV.

"The other two patients have already been discharged home. We also tested staff of which two tested positive and are at home recovering.

"Whilst more common in young children it can occur in people of all ages. It is spread by tiny droplets and sneezing or by touching surfaces with the virus on it.

"The best way to control is to use tissues when coughing and sneezing and washing hands regularly. The incubation period for RSV is five to seven days and the illness usually lasts about a week.

"Parents with children showing symptoms and adults with underlying heart and lung disease or impaired immune systems who are displaying symptons should, if concerned, either see the GP or ring NHS 24."

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