The outbreak of Mycobacterium abscessus infections was traced to a machine in the operating room that regulates the temperature of a patient’s blood during cardiopulmonary bypass.

Mycobacterium abscessus is commonly found in water, soil, and dust. The infection is treatable with antibiotics and all of the children are currently undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital.

This is the first time Children’s Hospital has experienced surgical-site infections caused by Mycobacterium, according to the hospital:

A common element in the affected children was open-heart surgery … We believe a piece of equipment used to regulate the temperature of patients while on bypass is the most likely source of this infection.”

Investigators believe the risk appears to be limited to patients who underwent open-heart surgery in 1 operating room where a specific piece of equipment was used. The operating room was disinfected and all suspected equipment was removed from service and replaced.

The type of machine was not identified, but dozens of Mycobacterial outbreaks have been linked to contaminated Heater-Cooler Units (HCUs).

Patients who have had open-heart surgery should seek medical care if they are experiencing symptoms associated with infections, such as night sweats, muscle aches, weight loss, fatigue, or unexplained fever.

Source: Cardiac patients contract rare infection at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans

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