Finally, the outbreak of meetings!

We’ve done a lot of blogging about the insidious M. chimaera outbreak linked to heater-cooler units (HCUs). Still, the general awareness of this problem lags, despite the fact that an untold number of HCUs are affected, and an unknown number of people are suffering with an undiagnosed granulomatous inflammatory process that has a crude mortality rate in excess of 50%. We heard excellent talks about the issue at SHEA 2016 from Emily Cooper at Wellspan (10 cases, 6 deaths), from Dr. Ray Chinn in the “Challenging Cases in Infection Prevention” session, and I gave a late-breaker on Friday evening (slides to follow in an upcoming post). By the way, SHEA 2016 was EXCELLENT, and the slide image above is from Bob Weinstein’s talk in the SHEA/CDC Training Course. 

Well, the FDA is hosting a meeting on this problem, details of which can be found here. I will be presenting about our experience at Iowa, but others with more expertise will be there as well, from US and Europe. I’m hoping to come away with a better sense of the way forward, which in my view must address (1) better case finding: improved clinician awareness via national patient and provider notifications, so that clinicians everywhere recognize exposure to cardiopulmonary bypass as a risk factor for disseminated MAC infection among patients with implants (valves, grafts), and creative approaches to identify potential cases who currently carry other diagnoses (e.g. sarcoidosis); (2) improved management of existing cases: we desperately need more clinical information about management approaches and outcomes, to help guide decision making for patients and their physicians; and (3) prevention of additional cases: the HCU has been revealed to be a bioaerosol generator that is too risky to share air with an open chest—the make/model implicated in this particular outbreak must obviously be removed from ORs, and other devices that include fans and water sources should also be scrutinized for the risk they may pose.


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