Many thanks to Dan Diekema at Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention for posting the link to this report from the Seattle Times: Operating-room machines test positive for Legionella at UW Medicine. Excerpt:
Bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease have been detected in University of Washington Medical Center devices used to heat and cool patients during heart surgery, the same type of machines linked to different types of deadly outbreaks in other hospitals.
Three so-called heater-cooler units, devices used during surgery to maintain a patient’s temperature, tested positive, UW Medicine officials said Monday. The discovery came during an investigation of at least four recent cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia, including two patients who died.
Similar heater-cooler units recently were tied to deadly infections at a central Pennsylvania hospital in 2015 and in other sites. The bacteria found in some cases were identified as nontuberculosis mycobacterium, or NTM, slow-growing bugs found in water and soil. Other bacteria called mycobacterium chimaera were also linked to infections not normally found in people.
But the UW Medicine outbreak appears to be the first public report of Legionella bacteria tied to the machines.
“Legionnaires’ disease has not been previously proven to be transmitted in this fashion,” Tina Mankowski, a UW Medicine spokeswoman, said in a statement Monday. No direct link with patient infections has been confirmed.
Hospital officials said the water in the machines doesn’t come into contact with the patient’s blood at any time during the process. But the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported 32 patient infections associated with heater-cooler units between January 2010 and August 2015 and indicated that transmission of bacteria was possible.