Burkholderia Cepacia Linked to Bloodstream Infections

By on 7:35 AM

Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia), formerly known as Pseudomonas cepacia, is a ubiquitous organism found in soil and water with relatively low pathogenicity in the immunocompetent population.

People at risk for pneumonia and other infections related to this organism include those with weakened immune systems and cystic fibrosis patients. B. cepacia, like many other bacteria, has the tendency to develop antimicrobial resistance, and can spread from person to person in the healthcare setting.

Outbreaks ranging from contamination of intravenous fluids, contaminated medicines and devices have been reported during the course of the past couple of decades. Of note is an outbreak of pneumonia-like illness in several states related to mouthwash in 2005.

The most recent report of serious bloodstream infections across five states (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) includes approximately 149 cases, with six deaths to date. This outbreak is linked to contaminated prefilled saline flushes marketed for use in long-term care facilities.

As reports of this nature continue, they further emphasize that ubiquitous organisms, especially those that are "water-loving," continue to cause significant morbidity and mortality. Proper infection prevention and control practices are imperative as even a small breach in protocol while compounding, preparing and/or packaging medications as well as medical devices can have disastrous outcomes.

Infection Control Consulting Services (ICCS) is a national provider of infection prevention and infection control services, including development of individualized infection prevention risk assessment. A risk assessment is conducted to identify real and potential risk factors that create a threat for patients to develop healthcare-associated infections, such as the use of contaminated saline flush syringes.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.