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4 April 2017

Mycobacterium Chimaera infection - Patient Information

There have been a number of recent press articles about the potential contamination of medical equipment used within cardiac surgery which could cause patient harm via a Mycobacterium Chimaera infection.
Mycobacterium Chimaera is a slow-growing environmental bacterium, linked to heater-cooler devices (HCD) which can be dispersed in the air and risk contamination during operations. The infection has only been found in patients who have had surgery on their heart valves or undergone transplantation; therefore, there is no concern for other forms of heart surgery.

Patients should be aware that the risk of infection is very small and there have been no reported cases at Papworth Hospital. We are aware of the potential infection and have actively implemented measures to reduce this risk within our hospital. This is an international concern and we will continue to work closely with NHS England for updates and guidance.

NHS England have stated that: "NHS England, Public Health England and the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency issued guidance to surgical centres in November 2015 after mycobacterium chimaera infection risk was identified. The guidance clarified both additional decontamination measures and also advised NHS surgical teams to inform patients having these specific types of heart surgery of the possible risk.

"No cases of the infection have been identified in patients who had surgery since this guidance was published, although we are monitoring this closely.  We have also begun a process which will include contacting patients who have had heart valve surgery since January 2013 to make them aware of the potential, but very low, infection risk. If patients are generally well and do not have any symptoms, then they do not need to take any action."

More information is also available on the NHS Choices website.


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