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Published on 4 February 2008

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Hospital bugs “linked to cosmetics”

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It has emerged that cosmetic products such as moisturisers and body lotions can transmit deadly bugs to critically ill hospital patients.

The warning comes after five intensive care patients in a Spanish hospital contracted a life-threatening infection.

The outbreak at the Universitari del Mar Hospital in Barcelona was traced to a moisturising body milk used as part of the patients’ care. Containers of the product had been contaminated with a bug called Burkholderia cepacia before they were opened.

The bacteria belong to a family of microbes commonly found in soil and water, and are known to cause hospital infections.

While they pose little risk to healthy people, they can be dangerous to patients with weak immune systems or lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

Researchers reporting on the case in the journal Critical Care said the moisturiser had probably been contaminated during its manufacture, storage or transport.

The authors, led by Dr Francisco Alvarez-Lerma from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, wrote: “Moisturising body milk is a potential source of infection. In severely ill patients, the presence of bacteria in cosmetic products, even within accepted limits, may lead to severe life-threatening infections.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

Critical Care

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