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In 2014, invasive Mycobacterium chimaera infection associated with use of heater-cooler devices during open-heart surgery was identified as a new disease entity. Infection with Mycobacterium chimaera, a slow-growing type of nontuberculous mycobacteria, tends to develop a long time (often more than a year) after the procedure, and because there is no established treatment, 50 percent of patients die. Heater-cooler devices help keep patients’ circulating blood and organs at a specific temperature during the procedure. The most likely cause of these infections is contamination of the heater-cooler devices from one manufacturing site.
To learn more about the extent of this worldwide epidemic, Sommerstein, et al. (2018) analyzed data from Switzerland, the leading country for recognizing and researching the outbreak. Their extrapolated findings indicated that there have been 156 to 282 new cases per year in the 10 countries that do the most heart valve replacement surgeries; 51 to 80 of these cases were in the United States. More cases might be found if researchers conducted a focused search in each country where this device has been used and if countries required reporting of invasive nontuberculous mycobacterial infections.
Reference: Sommerstein R, et al. Global Health Estimate of Invasive Mycobacterium chimaera Infections Associated with Heater-Cooler Devices in Cardiac Surgery. Emerging Infectious Diseases. Vol. 24, No. 3. 2018.