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Officials with the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans are reporting a small group children who developed a surgical site infection suspected to be Mycobacterium abscessus post cardiac surgery.

Stethoscope Public domain image/Darnyi Zsóka
Public domain image/Darnyi Zsóka

The surgeries were performed in late-May and June this year.  The infection is treatable and all patients are currently undergoing successful treatment in this hospital.

The investigation into the cluster shows that the risk appears to be limited to patients cared for in one operating room when a specific piece of equipment was used.

Hospital officials believe a piece of equipment used to regulate the temperature of patients while on bypass is the most likely source of this infection, and all suspected equipment has been removed from service and replaced.

The room has been terminally disinfected, and our ongoing environmental surveillance of the operating rooms has not shown any contamination with the organism beyond the involved device.

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Upon discovery, hospital leadership took immediate action to address the issue, to investigate, and to identify the cause. Children’s Hospital has complied with all Louisiana Office of Public Health mandatory reporting requirements. The hospital has enlisted the assistance and expertise of the Louisiana Office of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and outside infection control consultants.

Mycobacterium abscessus is normally found in soil and water around the United States and does not cause infections in normal healthy individuals. The bacterium, while a common environmental contaminant, is a rare cause of a surgical site infection.