Glasgow & West Scotland

Respiratory virus 'a factor' in deaths of Beatson patients

Beatson Cancer Hospital Image copyright NHS GGC
Image caption One ward at the Beatson Cancer Centre has been closed to new admissions

A respiratory virus which affected seven patients at Scotland's largest cancer hospital was a contributory factor in two deaths, it has emerged.

The ward at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, where the patients were treated, has been closed to new admissions as a precaution.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) said one of the patients who died had significant underlying health issues.

The other had been discharged but later died in another hospital.

A third patient is said to be giving "cause for concern".

NHS GGC said that seven patients had tested positive with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

It described RSV as a "common germ that causes lung and airway infections in infants and young children".

The health board said that in young children and ‎adults with compromised immune systems, the illness can be more severe and cause pneumonia.

Image copyright PA
Image caption RSV can be spread through sneezing

Dr Teresa Inkster, infection control doctor with NHS GGC, 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."

Dr Inkster said two of the patients who had tested positive for RSV died this week.

"One of the patients who died had significant underlying health issues," she said.

"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 Beatson after being assessed as clinically fit,. However, this patient's condition subsequently deteriorated and they were admitted to a hospital out with the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area where they sadly passed away."

Staff testing

Dr Inkster said that a third patient who was "giving cause for concern" was in a stable condition after being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

She added: "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."

The health board said RSV is spread by tiny droplets and sneezing or by touching surfaces with the virus on it.

Symptoms in babies include difficulty breathing, high fever, nasal discharge, cough mucus, irritability or inactivity and refusal to feed.

The best way to control it 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.

People with concerns are advised to see a GP or ring NHS 24.

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