Moms Contract Flesh-Eating Disease During Cesarean Sections
EVANSTON, IL., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Two women who delivered babies by Caesarean section at Evanston Hospital in late July contracted the "flesh-eating" bacterial infection necrotizing fasciitis, the hospital confirmed Tuesday.
The hospital said an investigation showed the women contracted the Group A streptococcus infection apparently from a member of the surgical team. Group A strep is the same type of bacteria that causes strep throat.
Neither of the babies was affected by the infection and one of the mothers already has been discharged and sent home. The second mother was in good condition, hospital spokeswoman Joan Trezek said.
"The OB patients were attended by the same surgical team and delivered in the same OR within five hours of each other," the hospital said in a statement.
"This is a very rare, very isolated occurrence," said Dr. Thomas Vescio, medical director for infection control and hospital epidemiology at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare. Vescio cited research indicating there were only 15 postpartum and post-surgical outbreaks of hospital-acquired Group A strep in the United States between 1965 and 1999.
Hospital officials said they believe they have identified the member of the surgical team who was carrying the bacterium. The individual, who showed no symptoms, was put on leave and given antibiotics. The person is now strep-free.
Vescio said no routine screening for the bacterium is conducted because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it would serve no purpose.
"At present no hospital in the country could guarantee they could prevent such an event," Vescio said.
The two women who contracted the disease delivered babies July 31 within five hours of each other. Both have undergone surgery to control the infections.
Hospital officials have not determined how the bacterium was transmitted to the women, with Vescio saying skin transmission was unlikely. Possible airborne transmission is considered "somewhat controversial," he said.
The Illinois Department of Health is investigating the incident.
Some 600 people nationally contracted necrotizing fasciitis in 1999, according to CDC statistics. The disease destroys muscles, fat and skin tissue, killing about 20 percent of victims.
Generally, the bacterium spreads through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of an infected individual or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin. The disease can spread rapidly and needs to be treated promptly. Symptoms include fever, severe pain and swelling. The infection may enter through even a minor wound, according to information from the National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation and redness around the wound is an additional possible symptom. The NNFF notes that symptoms of the infection may be mistaken for the flu.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.
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