Employees at Wal-Mart stores across the country are pulling a specific powdered baby formula from the shelves following the death of a 10 day old boy from Lebanon. Avery Cornett is the second infant to be treated during the last month at a Missouri hospital for a rare infection called Cronobacter sakazakii.
Analysts for the Centers for Disease Control are examining samples to try and determine the source of the bacteria. The first case involved a child from out of state who recovered after receiving treatment in Missouri. Avery Cornett however died just 10 days after he was born. "They removed him from life support at 7:52 p.m. his little heart beat until he passed," Cornett’s grandmother Vicky Lerdahl said. The grandmother says she knew something was very wrong with baby Avery. "He started doing this constant moaning," Lerdahl said. She says the boy’s parents took him to a pediatrician on Thursday and then to an emergency room on Friday. He was transferred to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield where he later died.
Health officials say grunting while breathing is one symptom of a Cronobacter sakazakii infection. Other signs include pour response to feeding, jaundice and unstable body temperature. "Sometimes babies will just be fussy but with this infection they will really deny that food source," Laclede County Health Department Administrator Charla Baker said.
Health officials sent samples of Avery's formula and the distilled water used to make his bottle to the Centers for Disease Control. According to Baker, the formula being tested is Enfamil Newborn. It could take several days to receive results because the samples must be cultured. Avery's family says his condition deteriorated quickly. "He was sweating,” Lerdahl said. “He had been sweating through his clothes but he was cold to the touch."
The family will hold a celebration of his life on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Holman Howe Funeral Home in Lebanon. A memorial fund is set up in his name. "He is gone, it's hard," Lerdahl said. “The house has baby toys and bedding that are being removed because the mom just can't handle it. Their two-year-old is wondering where is Avery."
Many are waiting for lab results to learn where the bacteria came from. "Maybe his passing will help someone else," Lerdahl said. Because the exact source of the bacteria is unknown, there is no official recall.
“We extend our deepest condolences to this baby boy’s family as they try to come to grips with their loss,” Wal-Mart Spokesperson Dianna Gee said. “We made a company decision to remove the remaining product with the same lot number from our store shelves.” Wal-Mart customers who may have purchased the item at our stores can return it for a full refund or exchange it for another brand formula According to Gee if customers have questions about the safety of the product, they can contact the manufacturer Mead Johnson at 1-800-BABY-123. A health department spokeswoman says the formula being tested is Enfamil Newborn.
“As soon as we heard what happened, we immediately reached out to the manufacturer of the formula and to the Department of Health and Senior Services to provide any information we may have to help with the investigation,” Gee said.
CDC Recommendations to Prevent Cronobacter sakazakii
-When making baby milk from infant formula powder, water should reach a heat of 158°F or 70°C
-It’s possible to find an alternative to a powdered form of baby milk such as liquid formula which is usually sterile
-Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
-Throw out prepared formula if you don't use it within 24 hours of preparing it.
Edited News Release from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services:
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services or DHSS is issuing a health alert. Health officials notified the department of two cases of invasive Enterobacter sakazakii infection in newborns treated in Missouri hospitals within the last month. The most recent case notification occurred yesterday in Laclede County Missouri. Of these two cases, one was an out-of-state infant who recovered, and the most recent case was a Missouri infant who has died. Both infants were fed powdered infant formula. Clusters of E. sakazakii infections have previously been reported around the world among infants fed milk-based powdered formula from various manufacturers. Testing of all baby formulas involved, as well as all other products given to the babies reported in Missouri is on-going.
Enterobacter sakazakii has been reclassified as a Cronobacter sakazakii. According to DHSS officials, the natural habitat of E. sakazakii is not well understood. The bacterium can be detected in the gut of healthy humans, most probably as an intermittent guest. It can also be found in the gut of animals, as well as in the environment.
The majority of cases of the infection occur in newborns. The infection can cause sepsis, meningitis, or necrotizing enterocolitis. The fatality rate among infected neonates has been reported to be as high as 33% - 80%. The pathogen is also a rare cause of bacteremia and osteomyelitis in adults, but the outcomes related to adult disease seem to be significantly milder.
The scientific literature suggests that premature infants and those with underlying medical conditions are at highest risk for developing E. sakazakii infection. Several outbreaks have occurred in neonatal intensive care units worldwide. However, an apparently healthy full-term newborn infant who suffered permanent neurological sequelae has also been previously reported.
Although the reservoir of the organism is unknown, a growing number of outbreaks of infection among newborns has provided compelling evidence that milk-based powdered infant formulas have served as the source of infection. One study tested milk-based powdered infant formula products obtained from a number of different countries and found that E. sakazakii could be recovered from 14% of samples. The results of another investigation suggest that even low levels of E. sakazakii in milk-based powdered infant formula can lead to development of infection. E. sakazakii has been detected in other types of food, but only powdered infant formula has been linked to outbreaks of disease. No exclusively breastfed infants have been reported to have E. sakazakii.