The Norwegian Institute of Public Health warns of an ongoing outbreak of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in more than ten of the country’s hospitals. Cases of infection have now been reported in three of the country’s four health regions.
The outbreak was discovered in November 2021 when three patients admitted to UNN Tromsø for covid-19 became seriously ill and died of blood poisoning with identical bacterial strains. Helse Nord then established an outbreak group, and so far they have identified a total of 11 patients with the same bacterial strain from different hospitals in the region.
As part of national handling of such incidents, the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) asked all health regions to investigate further whether they could identify patients associated with the outbreak. Infection has now been detected in another 15 patients in Health South-East and three in Health Central Norway.
There is no definite connection between most patients who have been diagnosed with this bacterium, and further investigations are ongoing.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium that thrives in water and humid environments, as well as in a hospital environment. It rarely causes disease in healthy people, but can cause serious infection in intensive care patients and patients with weakened immune systems.
Whole genome analyzes of the bacterium (gene profile) have shown that the outbreak strain has not previously been described in Norway or in other countries.
FHI is now contributing to the outbreak work by coordinating a group from all health regions to get an overview of the situation and to limit the outbreak.
The working group works systematically to find routes of infection, whether there may be a possible common source of infection and to implement necessary infection control measures that can stop the outbreak.
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