Mystery Infection Kills Teenager Recovering From a Bone Marrow Transplant

BIRMINGHAM, U.K. -- The British Web site is reporting that public-health officials at the Health Protection Agency are investigating the death of a 14-year-old boy who contracted a mystery infection while he was recovering from a bone marrow transplant at a West Midlands hospital.


According to reports, five other young recipients of bone marrow ages four months to five years are in the intensive care unit following the development of similar respiratory symptoms. Three of the patients are being described as seriously ill, while two patients were said to be improving. A section of the high-dependency bone marrow unit has been closed until further notice.


Public-health officials and members of the scientific community are examining the possibility that the pediatric patients are the victims of a combination of several deadly pathogens, instead of one microscopic culprit. MRSA, TB and mumps have been reportedly ruled out as possible infective agents.


"To date, we have found different bugs in a number of the children, suggesting that there may not be a common cause, a hospital spokesperson said July 14, 2004. "However, experts consider it important to rule out a common cause and investigations continue."


The hospitals chief executive, Sandy Bradbrook, added, "It is important for the public, our patients and our staff to know that the hospital takes infection control very seriously."