ADPH: Bacterial contamination source 'likely' found

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Health officials believe they've identified the source of a bacteria that contaminated IV nutrition bags used at six Alabama hospitals. Of the 19 known patients affected by the contaminated product, nine have died.

After gathering samples from 12 of the 19 affected patients, the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday that samples from a container and stirrer used to mix powdered amino acids, the spigot to the tap water faucet used to rinse those tools, and the contaminated TPN (total parenteral nutrition) product "had the same genetic fingerprint as the organism" identified as Serratia marcescens.

ADPH said a bag of compounded amino acids used in TPN's production has also grown Serratia marcescens, but genetic fingerprint results are not yet available. Six other individual cases had no samples to test, while results from a seventh case are pending.

The health department says failure by the product's maker, Meds IV of Birmingham, to sterilize during the compounding process "was most likely the cause of the contamination. Use of these contaminated products led to a bacterial bloodstream infection in these 19 patients."

The health department will not say for certain if the contaminated patients died as a result of the TPN or if their deaths resulted from other health factors.

The ADPH says it continues to investigate the outbreak with the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Alabama Hospital Association, and the State Board of Pharmacy.

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