CDC: Deadly Bacterial Infection Possible From Heart Surgery: Medical Devices May Be The Cause
Anyone who has undergone heart surgery or who has had a loved one under the knife for such a procedure knows how frightening it can be. Even with modern techniques and technology, it is still a somewhat harrowing set of procedures that is approached with hope but caution. And everyone is relieved once the procedure is over and the patient has gone home safe and sound, even the surgeon.
And now for the bad news: the Centers for Disease Control have issued a warning to anyone who has undergone heart surgery–even those that had surgery long ago–that they are at risk for a deadly bacterial infection.
The warning applies to people who have had heart surgery since 2012, suggesting that they could face a life-threatening bacterial infection, especially people with valve implants or prosthetic product implants.
The bacteria is called nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM, and officials are saying it could affect up to 600,000 people. Thus far 12 people have died from NTM, and while officials are saying that the risk is very low, it is nonetheless still a risk. And it is especially alarming for people who were certain their heart surgery and any attendant potential problems stemming from it were long behind them.
Symptoms include night sweats, muscle aches, joint pain and weight loss.
And while experts place the risks of contracting the disease between 100 to one and 1000 to one in hospitals where it has already been found, the warning also serves to highlight just how precarious is our relationship with bacterial outbreaks, especially those in hospital settings.
The truth of the matter is that, no matter how much they talk about sterilization, cleanliness procedures, and so forth, hospitals are filthy places, especially surgical theaters.
We’ve already seen our best, last-hope antibiotics prove to be rapidly losing their effectiveness against staph, gonorrhea, and other infectious diseases in recent years. Some experts think we may be facing an antibiotic -free future sooner rather than later. Cases of sepsis are on the rise too, a particularly alarming piece of news for the immuno-compromised in hospital settings.
So the news about NTM can be taken as an isolated medical complication affecting just a few hundred thousand people, or it can be thought of as just another example of how our routes for evading infection are narrowing at an alarming rate.