The source of the outbreak was found to be bottles of ultrasound transmission gel that were being used for intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography. Further investigations showed that the gel was contaminated during the manufacturing process and led to a national recall of the product.
These gels contain parabens or methyl benzoate that inhibit, but not kill, the growth of bacteria. Other ultrasound gels do not have antimicrobial properties and could therefore serve as a medium for bacterial growth. Indeed contaminated gels have been found to be the source of other outbreaks of infection in the past.
More recently, in October 2012, an Antimicrobial Foaming Hand Soap product has been recalled after it was also found to have been contaminated by Pseudomonas aeruginosa during the manufacturing process.
With all eyes on Pseudomonas aeruginosa within the Healthcare sector, the Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology journal has now published guidelines that have been proposed by epidemiologists from Beaumont Health System to reduce the risk of infection from contaminated gels. Click here for more information on these guidelines.