Blood infection traced to ER

40 affected by outbreak at Seven Oaks

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A bloodstream infection has affected 40 patients at Seven Oaks General Hospital -- including two who have died.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/12/2009 (4677 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A bloodstream infection has affected 40 patients at Seven Oaks General Hospital — including two who have died.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority issued a news release late Friday afternoon, describing the situation at Seven Oaks as an outbreak in the emergency ward and asking anyone treated with intravenous medication and suffering flu-like symptoms to contact their physician.

Dr. John Embil, the WRHA medical director of infection, prevention and control, said the symptoms of the infection are fever and chills. It can be fatal, he said, but is treatable with antibiotics.

"It can be fatal but with rapid initiation of antibiotic therapy you can avoid the most dire complication, which is death," Embil said.

Embil said his department became aware of the outbreak at the end of the summer when staff found a number of bloodstream infections linked to an organism known as Serratia marcescens.

"It’s an unusual organism and when you start seeing a number of this coming up… (it) triggers alarm bells and gets everyone in line to find out why this is happening," Embil said.

Twenty patients were infected when Embil and hospital staff began tracking the source of the infection in late summer, and another 20 people have since been identified as also having the infection.

Dr. Ricardo Lobato de Faria, the chief medical officer at Seven Oaks, said all but two of the 40 patients showed signs of the infection after they were admitted to the hospital following treatment in the emergency ward. Two others were treated in emergency and released but recalled when their blood work revealed the infection, he said.

Embil said two patients with the infection have died but added the infection was not the cause of their deaths. He said they were seriously ill when they were admitted.

Embil said officials’ detective work determined that the infection originated in Seven Oaks’ emergency ward but they’ve yet to learn what caused it in the first place.

Senior management at the WRHA were informed Thursday afternoon of the outbreak when it was determined that the infection began in the hospital emergency ward.

WRHA spokeswoman Heidi Graham said the Seven Oaks emergency ward will not be closed and the health authority is not advising the public to stay away.

Graham said it’s unlikely that any former Seven Oaks patients have the bloodstream infection but she added that anyone who has been treated at the Seven Oaks emergency ward recently, received intravenous medication and has flu-like symptoms should contact their physician or Health Links.

Embil said the health authority’s protocols and procedures went into play when the outbreak was detected, adding his staff will continue to work to track the cause.

"This is part of routine quality assurance and routine followup on any abnormality that’s found to be of significance," Embil said. "This is basically business as usual."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Saturday, December 12, 2009 4:53 PM CST: Corrects spelling error.

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