A ten-day-old infant, Avery Cornett, died December 18, 2011 from a rare infection caused by a bacterium called Cronobacter Sakazakii.
Cronobacter Sakazakii is often linked to powdered infant formula. Because of this knowledge the Enfamil formula consumed by Avery was investigated. Several stores including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and Kroger pulled powdered Enfamil from the shelves last week.
After testing, Mead Johnson reports there is no link between their powdered formula and Avery Cornett’s infection.
What is Cronobacter Sakazakii?
It is a gram negative, rod shaped, facultative anaerobic, and heat sensitive pathogenic bacterium.
Gram negative refers to bacteria that do not retain the crystal violent dye used during what is called a gram staining procedure used to identify bacteria type. Knowledge of the type of bacteria gives knowledge to practitioners about which antibiotics are more likely to work best for treatment.
Bacteria come in many shapes, but are usually sphere, spiral, or rod shaped. Cronobacter Sakazakii is a facultative anaerobic bacterium, which means it produces ATP (energy source for the cell) in oxygen, but when oxygen is not available it can switch to fermentation.
Pathogenic bacteria are organisms that can cause infections. The most common term is ‘germ.’ A heat sensitive bacterium means that hotter temperatures eradicate its potential.
Who gets infections from Cronobacter Sakazakii?
Cronobacter Sakazakii is an abundant environmental contaminant that can infect all ages. However, the most common infected are prenatal, infants, and immune compromised. It has been estimated that 30-50% of infected infants die from their infections.
Infants infected can develop bacteraemia (the presence of bacteria in the blood), meningitis (infection of the membranes surrounding the spine and brain), or necrotizing enterocolitis (death of intestinal tissue). All of these conditions are life threatening to an infant.
How does Cronobacter Sakazakii infect an infant?
As far back as 2001 the CDC has warn practitioners that powdered formula is not sterile and can contain Cronobacter Sakazakii.
The bacteria are heat sensitive and usually killed during pasteurization, however, raw material used for producing formula or other dry ingredients used after pasteurization can infect powdered formula. Because Cronobacter Sakazakii is an abundant environmental contaminant powdered formula can become infected during reconstitution.
How do I protect my infant from Cronobacter Sakazakii?
The best way to protect an infant is for their caregiver to be aware of Cronobacter Sakazakii, the signs and symptoms of the disease and to consult a pediatrician for any questions or concerns.
According to Foodborne Illness,
“SYMPTOMS OF CRONOBACTER INFECTION
Cronobacter symptoms usually include the following in infants:
Poor feeding response
Grunting while breathing
Around 50 percent of infants who have a Cronobacter sakazakii die, and those who survive may experience neurological impairment.
HOW TO PREVENT A CRONOBACTER SAKAZAKII INFECTION
The CDC recommends the following steps for preventing a Cronobacter infection:
Use hot water to make baby milk from infant formula powder—Water should reach a heat of 158°F (70°C)
Choose an alternative to a powdered form of baby milk. Liquid formula is usually sterile.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing baby milk from powdered formula
Throw out prepared formula if you don’t use it within 24 hours of preparing
Limit “hang time” for continuous feeding via tube to four hours”
Where can I get help with my infant?
- Tampa bay baby.com
- La Leche Legue of Brandon
- Baby groups Tampa, Florida
- St. Joseph’s Woman’s Hospital prenatal and patenting classes.