Eterobacter Sakazakii, more commonly referred to as Cronobacter, is a group of bacteria whose natural habitat remains unknown. However, the bacteria has been found in a number of dry foods, ranging from herbal teas and starches to powdered infant formula and skimmed milk powder. Although Cronobacter illnesses are relatively rare, they are extremely dangerous for infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. In fact, previous outbreaks have been linked to factories that produced contaminated baby formula, putting thousands of infants at risk. If your child is suffering from Cronobacter, you should speak with a personal injury attorney who can help you identify the at-fault party and seek damages for your medical expenses.
Cronobacter has been linked to a variety of infections and health problems, including some that are specific to infants, such as sepsis and severe meningitis, the latter of which could result in brain abscesses or hydrocephalus. However, infants are not the only age group that is susceptible to illnesses contracted through Cronobacter, as people of all ages who become infected with this bacteria could suffer from:
- Wound infections;
- Urinary tract infections; and
- Bloodstream infection.
Although reports of infections are relatively rare, only one state is actually required to report this type of illness, so rates of this infection are still not well understood.
Cronobacter infections are most often associated with the ingestion of powdered baby formula that was either contaminated in the factory or after it was opened. In most cases, Cronobacter is found in formula powder that:
- Came into contact with contaminated raw materials that were used to make the product;
- Touched a contaminated surface in the manufacturing environment.
Similarly, the bacteria can contaminate formula if the scoop was placed on a contaminated surface or if the formula is mixed with contaminated water.
It can be difficult to identify Cronobacter in young infants who are unable to report how they are feeling, so parents are encouraged to keep an eye out for the symptoms of infection, which could include:
- Poor feeding response;
- Grunting while breathing; and
- Unstable body temperatures.
Untreated infections can also lead to meningitis, or the inflammation of the membranes in the brain and spinal cord and is characterized by:
- A high fever;
- Constant crying;
- Excessive fatigue;
- Stiffness in the neck or body; and
- A Bulge in the soft spot on the head.
Meningitis is extremely dangerous to infants, so children suffering from these symptoms should immediately be taken to the hospital.
Managing Cronobacter Infections
Because illnesses caused by Cronobacter often affect infants under the age of two months old and the elderly, receiving treatment as soon as possible for these types of patients is extremely important. This, in turn, requires a full clinical evaluation of blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid cultures, as well as brain imaging studies. Unfortunately, multidrug-resistant strains of Cronobacter have been discovered, but certain types of antibiotics remain successful in treating wound and urinary tract infections.
Contact Our Legal Team
Because Cronobacter infections have only been found in a few different types of dry products, it is often easier to prove where contamination occurred than in other food borne illness cases, which means that any negligent conduct can be more easily identified. If your baby was infected with Cronobacter, please contact the dedicated personal injury legal team at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. by calling 737-201-0543 today.