Area hospitals affected by bacteria outbreak

By Tiffany Glick, Fox 6 Community Web Producer

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have opened an investigation into an outbreak of bacteria in six Alabama hospitals

Five Birmingham hospitals have been affected by the bacteria known as Serratia marcescens; Cooper Green Mercy Hospital, Princeton Baptist Medical Center, Shelby Baptist Medical Center, Medical West and Select Specialty Hospital had patients affected, the ADPH announced in a news conference Tuesday afternoon. The sixth hospital is Baptist Prattville.

According to the Alabama Hospital Association, the outbreak is limited to six Alabama hospitals which purchased "total parenteral nutrition" from the same pharmacy. TPN is food that is given to a patient intravenously.

The ADPH was notified on March 16 of two hospitals with patients who had contracted the bacterial infection. The CDC's investigation revealted that the pharmacy, Meds IV, was the supplier of the contaminated TPN.

On March 24, Meds IV recalled all of its TPN products and notified all of its customer hospitals.

Out of the six hospitals, there have been 19 cases identified. Nine of those cases related in fatalities, however officials say the patients had other underlying conditions so they are unable to determine whether their deaths were caused by the bacteria. This will be determined by the CDC's ongoing investigation.

The bacterial infection is blood borne, and should not affect anyone who comes in contact with patients already infected.

Serratia marcescens is known to cause 1.4 percent of blood stream infections developed in hospitals in the U.S., according to medical website Medscape.

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