An outbreak of Serratia marcescens bacteremia has occurred at six Alabama hospitals among patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN). TPN is given via an IV. The hospitals affected are Baptist Princeton, Baptist Prattville, Baptist Shelby, Cooper Green Mercy, Medical West and Select Speciality Hospital in Birmingham.
Serratia marcescens bacteremia is an organism that can cause respiratory tract and urinary tract infections and infections of the eyes and it is a rare cause of pneumonia and meningitis. If it is injected into the bloodstream via IV it can cause blood poisoning and even death.
The Alabama Department of Public Health said that there have been 19 people sickened by the contaminated feed and a further nine deaths. The number of cases of illness and deaths were as follows:
Baptist Princeton, 7 cases, 4 deaths
Baptist Shelby, 5 cases, 2 deaths
Medical West, 3 cases, 1 death
Cooper Green Mercy, 1 case, no deaths
Baptist Medical Center Prattville, 1 case, 1 death
Select Specialty Hospital of Birmingham, 2 cases, 1 death
All of the affected IV bags were found to come from a pharmacy called Meds IV and all the hospitals were supplied by this pharmacy. All of the IV feed bags have been recalled and the pharmacy has discontinued all production pending further investigation.
The hospitals concerned did stop use of the infected TPN as soon as the infection was discovered. If you or a loved one has received TPN at one of the listed hospitals and you are concerned, please speak to your healthcare provider.
Sources: FDA Recall Notices.
Alabama Department of Public Health - http://www.adph.org/news/assets/110330.pdf
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.