The problem was discovered after one nursing home in Maryland reported several infections with the bacteria B. cepacia in patients receiving intravenous care.
B. cepacia is a bacteria that is commonly found in water and soil, but infections are rare. When outbreaks occur, health officials typically suspect contaminated medical supplies or devices.
The recall was issued after the Pennsylvania Department of Health got a positive test for B. cepacia in an unopened sample of Nurse Assist I.V. Saline Flush Syringes.
As of October 5, there have been 33 cases reported by health departments in three states: Maryland (11), New Jersey (2), and Pennsylvania (20).
All of the victims were patients in medical facilities who were receiving medication through an intravenous (IV) drip. Saline flush syringes are connected to the patient before and after administering a drip medication to clean out the intravenous line.
B. cepacia is a problematic bacteria in healthcare environments because it naturally resists antibiotics. Healthy adults are rarely infected, but it has a high mortality rate in people with underlying medical problems like cystic fibrosis.
In the last few years, the FDA has issued alerts about B. cepacia contamination on antiseptic wipes and baby wipes. At least 60 infections in 8 states were linked to contaminated liquid laxatives in August 2016.