FDA-Approved Device Was Contaminated

A probe used to measure the carbon dioxide level in patients has been recalled after the device was found to have caused infections in critically ill children. Three of the children died in the ICU at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. The infections were due to a bacterium called Burkholderia cepacia, according to the succinct and somewhat sanitized news release (below) from the FDA.

Comment: Burkholderia cepacia (or B. cepacia, for short) is the name for a group of bacteria that can be found in soil and water. B. cepacia bacteria are often resistant to common antibiotics. They pose little medical risk to healthy people. However, people who have certain health problems like a weakened immune systems or chronic lung disease, particularly cystic fibrosis (CF), are more susceptible to infections with it. Transmission of these bacteria has been previously reported from contaminated solutions and medical devices as well as contaminated over-the-counter nasal spray and contaminated mouthwash. Decisions on the treatment of infections with B. cepacia are best made on a case-by-case basis. Usually it can be treated with drugs called Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or Meropenem.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com