Cosmetic products may cause fatal infections in critically ill patients

Jan 31, 2008

Healthy consumers can handle the low levels of bacteria occasionally found in cosmetics. But for severely ill patients these bacteria may trigger life-threatening infections, as patients in the intensive care unit at one Barcelona hospital discovered after using contaminated body moisturiser. The Burkholderia cepacia bacteria outbreak is detailed in the open access journal, Critical Care.

Five patients suffered from infection including bacteremia, lower respiratory tract infection and urinary tract infection associated with the bacterial outbreak in August 2006. Skin care products sold in the European Union are not required to be sterile, but there are limits to the amount and type of bacteria that are permitted.

The Hospital Universitari del Mar, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona’s routine infection control surveillance pinpointed the unwelcome bacteria in five patients’ biological samples. Researchers tested a number of environmental samples, and discovered that moisturizing body milk used in the patients’ care was a B. cepacia reservoir. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis experiments confirmed that all of the strains of B. cepacia bacteria found in patient and environmental samples were from the same bacterial clone. Tests on sealed containers of the moisturizer confirmed that the bacteria had not invaded the product after it had been opened, but that it was contaminated during manufacturing, transportation or storage.

“This outbreak of nosocomial infection caused by B. cepacia in five severely ill patients supports a strong recommendation against the use cosmetic products for which there is no guarantee of sterilization during the manufacturing process,” says study author Francisco Álvarez-Lerma.

B. cepacia is a group or “complex” of bacteria that can be found in soil and water. They have a high resistance to numerous antimicrobials and antiseptics and are characterised by the capacity to survive in a large variety of hospital microenvironments These bugs pose little medical risk to healthy people. However, those with weakened immune systems or chronic lung diseases, particularly cystic fibrosis, may be more susceptible to B. cepacia infection. B cepacia is a known cause of hospital infections.

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: Allergan to cut 1,500 employees in restructuring (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Life scientists differentiate microbial good and evil

Jan 09, 2014

(Phys.org) —To safely use bacteria in agriculture to help fertilize crops, it is vital to understand the difference between harmful and healthy strains. The bacterial genus Burkholderia, for example, includ ...

FDA warning for hand sanitizer in Puerto Rico

Mar 05, 2010

(AP) -- Puerto Rico's government sent inspectors across the island Thursday to stop stores from selling locally produced hand sanitizers tainted with a dangerous bacteria.

Recommended for you

British Lords hold ten-hour debate on assisted dying

Jul 19, 2014

Members of Britain's unelected House of Lords spent almost ten hours on Friday discussing whether to legalise assisted dying, in an often emotional debate putting the question back on the agenda, if not on the statute books.

AbbVie, Shire agree on $55B combination

Jul 18, 2014

The drugmaker AbbVie has reached a deal worth roughly $55 billion to combine with British counterpart Shire and become the latest U.S. company to seek an overseas haven from tax rates back home.

Safety problems at US germ labs acknowledged

Jul 16, 2014

(AP)—The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Wednesday that systemic safety problems have for years plagued federal public health laboratories that handle dangerous ...

User comments : 0