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Bacterial outbreak causes 31 infections in a Seattle hospital

<i>National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH</i><br/>A medical center in Seattle is investigating an outbreak of Klebsiella bacteria.
National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH
A medical center in Seattle is investigating an outbreak of Klebsiella bacteria.

By Paradise Afshar, CNN

A Seattle medical center is reporting 31 confirmed cases of a bacterial infection since October, according a news release from the Virginia Mason Medical Center. The most recent confirmed case was identified on April 3.

“Beginning in October 2022, Virginia Mason Medical Center detected an increase in cases of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria at our downtown campus,” Sydney Bersante, Virginia Mason Medical Center’s interim president said in the statement. “We immediately implemented increased safety measures, notified patients who had tested positive for the bacteria, and promptly provided treatment where necessary.”

Bersante added that while the “risk of transmission is extremely low for patients,” the medical center is investigating the source of transmission and is taking precautions to prevent additional cases.

Klebsiella is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines that can lead to illnesses in health care settings such as pneumonia and meningitis as well as bloodstream, wound or surgical site infections, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“In healthcare settings, Klebsiella infections commonly occur among sick patients who are receiving treatment for other condition,” the CDC said.

Patients in a health care facility may be exposed to Klebsiella bacteria through person-to-person contact or through ventilators or intravenous catheters, according to the CDC.

The Seattle and King County public health department is “working closely” with the medical center to manage the outbreak.

“These types of outbreaks are complex, and despite thorough investigation, we may never know the source,” said Dr. Eric Chow, chief of communicable disease epidemiology and immunization for Public Health — Seattle & King County, in the news release from the hospital.

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CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht contributed to this report.

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