Outbreak of bloodstream infections linked to syringes reaches 149 cases

The case count in an outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia has increased to 149 cases across five states, according to a CDC update on Nov. 9. Health officials have linked the infections to pre-filled saline flushes manufactured by Nurse Assist — a Fort Worth, Texas-based medical device maker for long-term care facilities.

On Oct. 4, Nurse Assist issued a voluntary recall of the prefilled syringes after more than 30 cases of B. cepacia were linked to the product. The CDC — with aid from the Food and Drug Administration and the state health departments of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — identified the syringes, used to clean out intravenous lines, as the source of the outbreak. The investigation is ongoing.

Manish Trivedi, MD, an infectious disease specialist with AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., praised the CDC-led investigation, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

"What ended up happening was that the CDC, state and county health departments got involved quickly and targeted where this bacteria was coming from," said Dr. Trivedi. "Once identified, they did an excellent job at removing the sources."

Cases have occurred across 58 facilities and six of those infected have died.

According to the CDC, B. cepacia bacteria can be found in soil and water. Though B. cepacia poses little risk to healthy people, individuals with weakened immune systems may be susceptible to severe respiratory infections caused by the bacteria. B. cepacia are often resistant to common antibiotics.

More articles on infection control: 
Is the CDC surpassing the WHO in the global fight against infectious disease? 
Top 10 infection control stories, Nov. 7-11 
New test uses USB chip to screen for HIV

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