A Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak in Northern Norway was discovered in November 2021. Three patients, admitted for COVID-19, fell seriously ill and died of blood stream infection with identical Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains. Whole genome analysis of the bacterium showed that the outbreak strain has not previously been described in Norway or in other countries. Eleven additional patients with the same bacterial strain were identified from different hospitals in the same region. Further investigations identified 18 more patients in Southern and Central Norway –all infected with the same strain.
P. aeruginosa is a common bacterium that thrives in water and humid environments, specifically in hospital environment. The microbe rarely causes disease in healthy people but can cause serious infection in intensive care patients and immunocompromised patients. The NIPH is now searching for a possible common source of the infection in order to implement necessary infection control measures that can stop the outbreak.
Comment: Usually, P. aeruginosa diseases are only seen in neutropenic patients (septicemia), those with cystic fibrosis (pneumonia), burn patients (wound infection) or in ICUs (respirator-associated pneumonia). Interesting here: cases spread across geographically distant regions – how to explain this? SMK-hjs