CDC Warning: New Outbreak Of Burkholderia Cepacia Infection Could Be Life-Threatening To The Immuno-Suppressed
Hospital stays are notoriously dangerous. Not only do you face the very real possibility that going under the knife could result in you having the wrong limb removed, or worse, a brain operation on the wrong side, as happened not once, not twice, but three times in a year at one hospital in Rhode Island, you also face the possibility of contracting a nasty infection.
Antibiotic resistant staph infections have been in the news for some time, but now the Centers of Disease Control are warning hospital staff and patients of a new, ugly infection that has stricken imimuno-suppressed patients across multiple states.
Combining forces with the FDA, the CDC along with multiple state and local health departments as well as numerous health care facilities is investigating a multi-state outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia infections.
Mostly they have cropped up in patients who were on ventilators, who do not have cystic fibrosis, and who were being treated in hospital intensive care units.
Early reports seem to indicate that a contaminated liquid docusate product–a stool softener that is often prescribed to hospital patients suffering from constipation–may be to blame in cases in one state involved in the outbreak. For now, until more research into the matter is completed, CDC officials recommend that health care facilities cease using any liquid docusate products for patients who are critically ill, ventilated or immunosuppressed.
The bacteria, found in soil and moist environments, causes a wide variety of infections, including infections associated with catheter use as well as respiratory tract infections in hospitalized patients. It mostly won’t affect healthy individuals, but those who are immunocompromised are at particular risk, especially patients with chronic respiratory illnesses, in particular those with cystic fibrosis.
Infections that are caused by Burkholderia cepacia are often anti-biotic resistant, and can be life-threatening. Because of the infection’s potentially dangerous nature and the fact that it is highly infectious, hospitals are being told to apply stringent infection protocols.
Especially alarming is the near-untreatable nature of the infections caused by Burkholderia cepacia, especially for patients who are already immuno-compromised. Much like MSRA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, Burkholderia cepacia is often resistant to the antibiotic of last resort, leaving hospitals with little recourse in treating patients who have been infected. Which is doubly frustrating, considering that most people contract the infection from the hospital in the first place.
As usual, the best advice is to stay out of hospitals–after all they’re full of sick people.