This is an interesting example from the US of vigilance with bacteraemias, and the value of extensive investigation. We can’t say it couldn’t happen at our facility, can we?

As an infectious disease doctor, Nasia Safdar is a detective of sorts at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. She tracks the patterns of infections, from the type of illness to the organism at its root, and in spring 2014, she noticed something odd: A cluster of bloodstream infections caused by an uncommon, and potentially deadly, bacteria.

The microbe, Serratia marcescens, can infect the lungs, bladder, blood, and skin, and usually causes a few infections per year at Safdar’s hospital; some studies estimate that about 1 out of 100,000 people fall prey to a blood infection from the bacteria annually. So it was strange that five cases had occurred in just five weeks, and Safdar did a double take.

“There were more cases than we had been used to,” Safdar said. “I thought that needed investigation.”

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