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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 15:51 EDT

Bacteria Outbreak Claims Nine Lives In Alabama

March 31, 2011

Contaminated total parenteral nutrition (TPN) fed intravenously to nineteen patients at six Alabama hospitals is a possible culprit in the death of nine patients, leaving 10 others seriously ill, reports AFP.

The Alabama Department of Public Heath (ADPH) released a statement saying, “TPN is a liquid nutrition fed through an IV using a catheter. Use of contaminated products may lead to bacterial infection of the blood.”

The affected hospitals include Baptist Princeton, Baptist Shelby, Baptist Prattville, Medical West, Cooper Green Mercy and Select Specialty Hospital in Birmingham.

An investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is underway for a possible outbreak of Serratia marcescens bacteremia, a bacterial infection that affects the blood. Although all the stricken patients were fed intravenously, it is not yet clear whether the bacteria was contracted by TPN.

“Of the 19 that received the substance, nine of those are no longer living,” says Dr. Jim McVay, a senior official with the ADPH.

He also mentions, “These were very fragile individuals and it’s not clear whether the bacteria contributed to their deaths.”

The bacteria were first identified in the patients and then cultures were tested on the TPN, McVay says.

The TPN in question was identified as being produced by a single pharmacy, Meds IV. All hospitals involved were determined to have received the TPN from this pharmacy, the ADPH stated, have since stopped using the TPN.  Med IV production of the TPN could be the common link to the contamination.

As of March 24, the pharmacy has informed their customers of the possibility of contamination, and all of its IV compounded products have been recalled and all production stopped.

The pharmacy and all six hospitals are cooperating with the investigation, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is aware of the voluntary recall, reports Reuters.

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