Ex­tremely low risk of ex­po­sure to bac­te­ria through open heart surgery iden­ti­fied

The McLeod River Post - - Viewpoint -

Al­berta Health Ser­vices (AHS) is no­ti­fy­ing about 11,500 for­mer open-heart surgery pa­tients of an ex­tremely low risk of in­fec­tion re­lated to po­ten­tial ex­po­sure to bac­te­ria dur­ing their pro­ce­dure.

The Fed­eral Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA) and Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol (CDC) in the U.S., as well as Health Canada, have re­ported a po­ten­tial risk for My­cobac­terium chi­maera in­fec­tion as­so­ci­ated with cer­tain heater-cooler units, which are used to warm and cool blood dur­ing adult and pe­di­atric open heart surgery.

AHS has used and does use these heater cooler units at the Foothills Med­i­cal Cen­tre in Cal­gary and at the Mazankowski Al­berta Heart In­sti­tute and the Stollery Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in Ed­mon­ton.

“We are re­leas­ing this in­for­ma­tion proac­tively to share de­tails about the po­ten­tial risk of ex­po­sure to M. chi­maera bac­te­ria as well as to re­as­sure pa­tients and fam­i­lies that there is an ex­tremely low risk of in­fec­tion in those who may have been ex­posed. No in­fec­tions have been iden­ti­fied to date in any AHS car­diac pa­tients,” said Dr. Mark Joffe, AHS Se­nior Med­i­cal Direc­tor, In­fec­tion, Preven­tion and Con­trol.

“As al­ways, pa­tient safety is our first pri­or­ity. Our sites fol­low man­u­fac­turer in­struc­tions for use to clean and main­tain these ma­chines. At all sites, we have im­ple­mented ad­di­tional safety mea­sures to fur­ther min­i­mize risk.”

M. chi­maera in­fec­tions can­not be spread by per­son-to-per­son con­tact. In­fec­tions grow slowly and may take months or even years to de­velop. Symp­toms can be sub­tle, but will gen­er­ally progress over sev­eral weeks and may in­clude: • Fever.

• Un­ex­plained, per­sis­tent and pro­fuse night sweats. • Un­in­ten­tional weight loss. • Mus­cle aches.

• Fa­tigue.

• Red­ness, heat or pus at the surgical in­ci­sion site.

“It’s im­por­tant for pa­tients to un­der­stand that symp­toms are far more likely to be caused by other health con­di­tions or short-lived bac­te­rial or viral in­fec­tions than M. chi­maera,” said Dr. Joffe. “The risk of M. chi­maera in­fec­tion is ex­tremely low but it is im­por­tant to con­sult with your doc­tor if symp­toms per­sist for more than a cou­ple of weeks and you feel that your health is de­clin­ing.”

Over the com­ing days, AHS will mail no­ti­fi­ca­tions to Al­berta physi­cians and dis­charged open­heart surgery pa­tients who may have been ex­posed to M. chi­maera dur­ing their pro­ce­dure. The pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tion will in­clude adults and par­ents or guardians of pe­di­atric pa­tients.

AHS is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion very closely and will con­tinue to fol­low all Health Canada guid­ance and di­rec­tion re­lated to the use of heater cooler ma­chines.

In­di­vid­u­als look­ing for more in­for­ma­tion can con­tact Health Link at 811.

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