Alberta Health Services confirmed Tuesday afternoon an adult who had open-heart surgery contracted the bacterial infection Mycobacterium chimaera (M. chimaera).
In December 2016, AHS notified 11,500 former open-heart surgery patients about a potential risk of infection related to the exposure of M. chimaera through certain heater-cooler units commonly used to heat and cool the blood in cardiac procedures.
AHS uses 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.
AHS did not say at which hospital the bacteria was contracted, nor the age of the patient. The senior medical director of infection with AHS said Tuesday the risk of infection remains low.
“At this time, we believe the risk to be between one in 100 and one in 1,000,” Dr. Mark Joffe said.
In December, notifications were mailed out to both adult and pediatric patients who had procedures done at three Alberta hospitals between January 2012 and December 2016.
AHS stressed Tuesday that anyone who had a cardiac procedure at Foothills Medical Centre after Jan. 1, 2013, or at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute or Stollery Children’s Hospital after Jan. 1, 2012, and is concerned about worsening health, is asked to contact their health-care provider or family physician.
M. chimaera infections grow slowly and may take months or years to develop. They cannot be spread by person-to-person contact. 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, and redness, heat or pus at the surgical incision site.
AHS said it continues to monitor the situation and sites that use the heater-cooler units follow all manufacturers’ instructions for use, maintenance and cleaning. Further safety measures have been implemented to minimize the risk to patients, AHS said. (bd)