The devices are thought to have been contaminated during the manufacturing process in Germany
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a stark warning to millions of people who underwent heart surgery since 2011.
According to health experts at the CDC, a device commonly used during heart surgery to regulate the temperature of the blood during the operation, could have been infected by a deadly bacteria known as Mycobacterium chimaera. The contamination is thought to have happened during the manufacturing of the devices.
The bacteria gradually builds up over time, forming a layer of film around the heart and eventually causing serious complications according to a report by Forbes.
For those who think they may have a chance of being affected have been urged by the agency to visit their doctor in order to get checked out. Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion calls for hospitals to check their Stockert 3T heater-cooler devices to determine which patients were potentially exposed to the bacteria.
“It’s important for clinicians and their patients to be aware of this risk so that patients can be evaluated and treated quickly. Hospitals should check to see which type of heater-coolers are in use, ensure that they’re maintained according to the latest manufacturer instructions, and alert affected patients and the clinicians who care for them,”
According to the Washington Post, at least 28 cases have been discovered mostly in hospitals in Iowa, Michigan and Pennsylvania. After extensive research into a link between Mycobacterium chimaera and the devices, the CDC found strong evidence that contamination occurred during manufacture in Germany.
Although it’s thought the risk of having been affected is between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1,000, infections can be severe and could result in death for people who have particularly weak immune systems.
“Although thousands of patients in the United States have been notified regarding potential exposure to contaminated heater-cooler devices, the number who were exposed might be much larger.”