Dentist Water Linked to Bacterial Infection Outbreak That Sickened 37 Children in California
Federal and state health officials have determined that one California dentists’ office may be the cause of a bacterial infection outbreak, which has hospitalized at least 37 children, determining that that a semi-antibiotic resistant bacteria had contaminated the dentist’s plumbing that supply patient mouth washing stations.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Orange County Public Health Care Agency in California have traced a Mycobacterium abscesses infection outbreak back to contaminated plumbing at the Children’s Dental Group in Anaheim, California.
According to the notice by Orange County officials, there may be more than three dozen cases of bacterial infections among children, with 12 confirmed and 25 probable. All 37 children were hospitalized at some point.
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Health officials first learned of the dental water infection outbreak in September, after nearly two dozen children were diagnosed with Mycobacterium abscesses infections after receiving pulpotomies, or baby root canals, in which dentists remove infected pulp inside a baby tooth so the rest of the tooth can be spared.
The Orange County Health Care Agency began investigating the outbreak with the assistance of the CDC and determined all of the children infected where between the ages of three and nine years old, and each had received pulpotomies from the same facility at Children’s Dental Group in Anaheim, California.
The health officials began investigating the potential source of the contamination and found abnormally high levels of microbes in the water. Investigators tested the water running into the office and found the source of contamination to be not from the public water lines, but from the water remaining stagnant within the flexible plastic tubes that carry water to hoses used to rinse patients’ mouths.
In many dentist offices, the water lines running to patient mouth washing stations are only used periodically, and hold a lot of stagnant water, making it an easy area for bacteria to grow.
Mycobacterium infections involve a class of bacterium closely related to those that cause tuberculosis and leprosy and is a rapidly growing infection commonly found is soil, food and water. Symptoms of the infections include redness, swelling, irritation, tenderness, fever, chills, muscle aches, and often cause the infected area to develop boils or pus-filled vesicles.
Oral mycobacterium infections within the mouth can pose more severe problems, as the infection can easily spread around teeth, potentially reaching the gums and jawbone. According to the CDC and Orange County Health Care Agency, these types of infection within the mouth often result in removing teeth and part of the jawbone.
According to one patient report, seven year old Mimi Morales is currently recovering from surgery in which she had to have three of her permanent teeth and a portion of her jawbone removed to stop the spread of the Mycobacterium infection she received while receiving routine dental work at Children’s Dental Group in Anaheim.
The Dental Board of California announced it will be opening an investigation to determine whether any sanitation practices or procedures have been neglected by the dental group. According to the group, it is mandatory for dental offices to flush water lines for at least two minutes each day to clear stagnant water from the lines that could grow bacteria.
The CDC’s investigation revealed that an estimated 842 children received pulpotomies from March to July this year. Infection reports are anticipated to rise given the several week incubation period that it could take for symptoms of the infection to surface. Caregivers are being encouraged to monitor their children for symptoms and consult with their healthcare providers if their children received dental procedures from the dentist facility from March to July this year.
Children’s Dental Group has announced that it will remain open to continue seeing patients. However, patient mouth flushing station will remain unused until the investigation by state and federal officials has concluded.
JanOctober 13, 2016 at 9:16 pm
It is time that we address the issue of mycobacteria and biofilm in the pipes of municipal water systems and in the pipes that supply water. Mycobacteria (NTM) is now being diagnosed more frequently, but information about the disease is supressed for the most part. We need funding and disclosure about the issue so that we can work to minimize this dread disease. It really should be a reportable[Show More]It is time that we address the issue of mycobacteria and biofilm in the pipes of municipal water systems and in the pipes that supply water. Mycobacteria (NTM) is now being diagnosed more frequently, but information about the disease is supressed for the most part. We need funding and disclosure about the issue so that we can work to minimize this dread disease. It really should be a reportable illness in the US..similiar to other countries.
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