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Hospital patients who have undergone open-chest surgical procedures could have been exposed to contamination from a common surgical device.

In 2015, Swiss investigators reported on six cases in which patients undergoing open heart surgery became infected with a form of bacteria known as mycobacterium chimaera. While this species is commonly found in soil and water and does not normally cause diseases in humans, when introduced into the chest cavity during heart surgery, it can cause serious illness – sometimes, as long as 5 or 6 years after the surgery.

The FDA has advised that as many as half a million open heart patients could be at risk. To learn more about the device in question click here.

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