NSW Health alert on Mycobacterium chimaera infections linked to heater-cooler devices

Posted by on 16 March 2017 | Comments

Two confirmed cases and one suspect case of Mycobacterium chimaera (M. chimaera) infection associated with contaminated heater-cooler devices (HCD) used in cardiac surgery have been diagnosed in New South Wales. One additional case has been diagnosed in Queensland and more than 70 patients have been diagnosed worldwide.  The first case was recognised in 2012 in Switzerland, with Germany, Netherlands, England and USA also affected. All of the NSW cases (confirmed and suspected) had aortic valve prostheses inserted at Prince of Wales Hospital in 2015.

Patients from ten hospitals in NSW and two hospitals in the ACT may have been exposed to the implicated HCDs. Four NSW public hospitals have had HCDs which have tested positive for M chimaera:  the Prince of Wales Hospital, Prince of Wales Private and Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick, and Children’s Hospital Westmead.

Whilst the estimated incidence of M. chimaera infections after cardiac surgery is less than 1 case per 10,000 operations, the risk of infection increases to between 1/100 and 1/1000 patients in hospitals where at least one infection has been previously identified. This means that the risk of this infection may be increased for patients of Prince of Wales Hospital, Prince of Wales Private and Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick who had shared operating theatre exposures.

Further information, including clinician alerts, testing and treatment recommendations, and information about affected NSW hospitals is available on the NSW Health website