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Health Check: Rare bacterial infection caused by device used to heat/cool blood

Atypical mycobacterial infections (CDC)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- A nationwide recall could be affecting heart patients. The CDC and the FDA are investigating reports that a device used to heat and cool the blood during open heart surgery is linked to a rare bacterial infection.

Centra just sent a letter to patients in our area who had open-heart surgery in the past seven years.

It alerts them to the potential risk.

According to Centra, 2,100 patients treated at Lynchburg General Hospital are at risk. So, far no one has been diagnosed with a Mycobacterium Infection.

The risk of developing the infection, according to Centra, is less than 1 in 10,000 cases.

Centra's chief medical officer, Dr. Dan Carey, said due to the bacteria's slow growth, it is possible to develop symptoms years after surgery. "The most important thing we want to make sure we can do is make sure the patients, the physicians and the community have this on their minds. If something is unexpected, an unexplained pneumonia for example that doesn't get better with the usual antibiotics. That's something. It could be this condition," he said.

Symptoms may include: night sweats, persistent cough, weight loss, fatigue, or unexplained fever.

Thankfully, this condition is treatable.

Centra has also established a toll-free number for you to call, 1-888-250-1605.

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