According to the American Association of Tissue Banks, over 1.5 million allografts are distributed annually in the United States1. Recent incidents involving the distribution of human tissues from donors not properly screened for infectious diseases have highlighted concerns for disease transmission through transplanted tissues2-4. Although rarely reported, allograft-associated infections have been associated with a variety of organisms and tissue types4. In all of the previously published reports, organisms were transmitted from the donor, because of either an unrecognized infection or contamination during tissue recovery. However, in the fall of 2006, we investigated the cases of two patients who had allograft-associated surgical site infections caused by Elizabethkingia meningoseptica (formerly Chryseobacterium meningosepticum), detected by orthopaedic surgeons, that may have been the result of environmental contamination at one firm during processing of tissues from different donors.
Elizabethkingia meningoseptica is a waterborne, gram-negative rod widely distributed in nature that rarely infects humans. It has been reported as a cause of neonatal meningitis, pneumonia in patients on ventilator support, peritonitis in a patient receiving peritoneal dialysis, and community-acquired necrotizing fasciitis5-9. The species is usually resistant to multiple antibiotics, including extended-spectrum beta-lactam agents, aminoglycosides, and vancomycin.
To investigate the cases of these two patients, we reviewed the medical records and the medical and/or social screening histories and serologic test results for their tissue donors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with the tissue processor and state and local health departments to contact health-care facilities receiving large numbers of soft tissues from this processor to look for additional cases of Elizabethkingia meningoseptica infection in allograft recipients.
The CDC received undistributed, processed tissues of both implicated donors from the processor. Tissues were processed in a tissue grinder and then were cultured in trypticase …
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