M. chimaera update

Big Sky, Montana
Dan and I are at the Infectious Diseases Winter Course in Big Sky, Montana. I'm writing this blog post sitting by the fire while he's out hitting the slopes. This morning, Dan gave a talk on the M. chimaera outbreak associated with heater cooler units in an effort to raise awareness among ID clinicians.

While we continue to work on case finding at the University of Iowa, we continue to receive calls from physicians across the country asking for advice. One of the major problems is the paucity of data to guide recommendations for the best approach to outbreak investigation.

We need CDC and FDA to expedite the needed work to answer many questions. At this point, there is no published descriptive epidemiology of the cases in the United States. There's still no information on molecular typing of the patient and environmental isolates to sort out whether this a point source outbreak with contamination occurring during the manufacturing process of the heater cooler devices. Every hospital working on this issue is struggling alone in the dark, while it's becoming increasingly clear that this is an expanding outbreak.

Today we learned that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Sorin, the manufacturer of the implicated devices.

We'll post more on this topic as it unfolds.


  1. Any plans to post the presentation?

  2. Hi Kirk,

    I posted the slides under the "presentation" tab on the right side (it will link to them). I removed a few slides that were specific to our patient and our response. The ECDC also has some useful information at the following links:





  3. Hi Mike, hi Dan, hi Eli
    Thanks for getting the information on the Chimaera threat out there. Sadly, many do not know about this threat that we discovered in Zurich, Switzerland, at the time. We might have a chat about the European perspective over the phone (as you are very close just now). This is potentially bigger than just Sorin and holds many insights and lessons for infection prevention, OR construction and ventilation, and institutional, national, and international control over safety issues linked to medical devices. I believe that law suits are not the right answer to safety issues - on a similar basis as blaming is not the right answers to safety issues in hospitals.
    Check out our experiments just published today in EID:




  4. Hi Hugo,

    Thanks for you comment, and thanks for the elegant outbreak investigation and subsequent work that your group has done to uncover this problem. I agree that this provides many larger lessons regarding safety issues of new devices and how to better anticipate and respond to them. Let's talk--as you can see, I've put up a post on your EID investigation already. We'd also welcome a blog post from you, if you have anything to add or would like to make some additional points regarding this problem.

    Best regards,



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