Babies have been stricken with Salmonella infection at a hospital in Modesto, California. The babies were sickened within a few weeks of each other, which provoked an inquiry.
The two baby girls were born at Doctors Medical Center, said CBS News. “We don’t have an answer yet. However, there has been intense investigation,” Dr. John Walker of Stanislaus County Public Health told CBS Sacramento.
Walker said that cases of newborn Salmonella poisonings are fairly rare and the two cases appear to be isolated; however, Doctors Medical Center did issue a statement saying they are taking the Salmonella claims seriously, said CBS News. “Fortunately this doesn’t appear to be a wide spread issue; however, state department of health is looking closely and hopeful all of us get answers soon,” Walker added.
It can take between six and 72 hours for symptoms of Salmonella poisoning—salmonellosis—to appear. Salmonellosis symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Additional symptoms include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days. The illness usually lasts four to seven days; however, in some, the organism can invade the bloodstream, becoming so severe that hospitalization is required.
Sometimes, infection with the Salmonella pathogen can result in, and produce more severe or chronic illnesses and can leave sufferers with serious life-long health issues. One of the most common bacterial food borne illnesses, salmonellosis can be especially life threatening to those with weakened immune systems, such as infants; the elderly; and persons with compromised immune systems, such as people with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy.
CBS News notes that about 400 people die annually from with acute salmonellosis.
It was the mother of one of the baby girls, Skylin, that prompted the investigation, said CBS News. Skylin’s mother, Sheila Vega, asked for authorities to become involved, telling the Modesto Bee that the Salmonella infection could lead to permanent damage in Skylin. Skylin is still in danger because she continues to test positive for the Salmonella bacteria. Diagnosed on April 19 after a stool test was returned positive for Salmonella, Skylin remains in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit because she was born six weeks premature.
Sheila believes Skylin was poisoned by the formula the hospital fed her. Sheila was given blood pressure medication during her pregnancy and was unable to breast-feed her baby, said CBS News. Physicians gave Skylin pre-mixed formula as a precaution. Meanwhile, Walker disagrees with these claims, telling the Modesto Bee that the state has not confirmed if Skylin’s salmonellosis is connected to the formula.
Abbott Laboratories, maker of the Similac formula used at Doctors Medical Center, told the Modesto Bee that no evidence exists that its formula caused the illness. “The quality and integrity of Abbott products are tested at every stage, from selection and approval of ingredients throughout production,” the company said. “All of Abbott’s infant formula products pass over 1,500 quality checks prior to release to hospitals and the public.”