B.C. patients who have had heart surgery or heart or lung transplants in the last five years are being warned about a possible risk of infection.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is warning patients who’ve had open-chest surgery after a bacteria was found in the heater-cooler devices used for the procedure.
Health Canada says the bacteria is typically not harmful but in some cases, it may cause serious and potentially life-threatening infections in patients.
Several people in North America have been diagnosed already.
“Patient care is our top priority and as a precaution, approximately 21,000 adult and child patients who have had heart, heart transplant or lung transplant surgery in BC since January 1, 2011 will receive letters to let them know of this possible risk, even though the chances of infection are very low,” reads part of a statement from PHSA.
As of now, PHSA says no one in B.C. has been diagnosed with the infection due to heart and lung surgery, but that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control is investigating.
The bacteria cannot be detected unless a person is showing signs of infection, and grows very slowly, so signs of an infection may not appear for months or years.
Some of the side-effects include extreme fatigue, weight loss, unexplained fever or chills, and shortness of breath.
Patients who have questions or concerns can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.