Oklahoma is Third Sickened by Baby Formula

The infection that killed one infant, sickened the other has now affected a third baby in U.S. The Oklahoma baby is the third infant this month that tested positive for Cronobacter, a lethal bacterium that causes rare illness in infants and is associated with the tainted infant baby formula. However, the baby who is less than a month old did not consume Enfamil formula manufactured by mead Johnson Nutrition Co. as reported by Leslea Bennett-Webb of the Oklahoma Department of Health. The baby was discharged from the hospital after being given the necessary treatment.

Earlier, an Illinois child also rebounded after being sickened by the Cronobacter bacteria whereas the 10 days old Missouri infant Avery Cornett succumbed to the infection after he had consumed Enfamil premium formula. Meanwhile cans of Enfamil were shelved off in the Wal-Mart Stores Inc and scores of other U.S retailers. But so far no direct link has been established between the formula and the illness. Investigations are going on the opened as well as sealed containers with formula, both liquid and powdered collected from the hospital and Wal-Mart where the formula was bought.

The investigation authorities did not reveal any other formula brands in the probe. However, this week Mead Johnson reported that its own retesting found no bacteria in the product. There are no legal requirements that similar cases be reported, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gets roughly four to six reports of Cronobacter each year. There have been 10 this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean cases are increasing. Attention over the Missouri death just may have prompted more reporting in the past, health officials said.

The infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it’s still deemed extremely dangerous to babies less than 1 month old and those born premature. An estimated 40 percent of illnesses from the bacteria end in death. That’s what happened in the Oklahoma case. That child got sick earlier in December, but after Avery Cornett’s death, the case “took on added significance” and was reported, said Larry Weatherford, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. According to experts, Cronobacter has been traced in dried milk and powdered formula although it is found naturally in the environment and in plants such as wheat and rice and there don’t exist sufficient methods to completely kill or remove this lethal bacteria.


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