The superbug outbreak began last summer when a New York woman arrived at the center for a lung transplant. The latest victim was a boy from Minnesota who succumbed to a blood stream infection, according to the Washington Post.
The boy was the 19th patient at the hospital to contact the resistant strain of the bacterium Klebsiella pneumonia. His case was the first new infection from the superbug reported since January, speaking concern that the bug continues to hide inside the Bethesda, Maryland, facility.
“It’s heartbreaking,” John Gallin, the clinical center’s director, said, the Washington Post reports. “What happened this summer was a very unfortunate case. All of these cases are hugely sad cases.”
The boy came to the facility after he experienced complications from a bone marrow transplant he underwent last summer. He had an underlying genetic condition that crippled his immune system and increased his susceptibility to acquiring the bacterial infection.
“We were worried he was set up for a bad infection,” Gallin said, according to the Washington Post.
The boy’s infection was discovered in July after a routine rectal swab, part of the measures put in place during the worst of the outbreak last fall. In addition to routine checks, NIH staff members built a wall to isolate infected patients, replaced plumbing in the building and hired monitors to ensure that staff followed cleanliness procedures to the letter.
The measures were believed to have worked until the boy’s infection was discovered.
“This kid probably got this infection because a patient who was a carrier [of the superbug] was on the same unit,” Gallin said, according to the Washington Post. “There was undoubtedly some intrahospital transmission despite our best efforts.”