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For Immediate Release
July 21, 2014

DHEC statement concerning mycobacteria at Greenville Health System

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has issued the following statement regarding the Greenville Health System's investigation into mycobacteria infections:

"It is important for the public to understand that the quality of Greenville's drinking water is not at issue in this case. Contamination of a sterile field with non-sterile water during invasive procedures may result in an infection of this type. Even at high levels, ingestion of mycobacterium abscessus is not typically a risk for infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

"Mycobacterium abscessus is an environmental contaminant and can be found in water and dust. In the healthcare setting, exposure to M. abscessus may best be avoided by preventing non-sterile water contamination of medical equipment and supplies. Prevention efforts should focus on eliminating potential contamination of the surgical field by any form of non-sterile water, as well as assuring meticulous adherence to good general infection prevention methods.

"DHEC has provided the hospital with a complete list of recommendations intended to help prevent this type of infection in the future, many of which have already been implemented."

DHEC's recommendations to the hospital are available here.

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For media inquiries:
Jim Beasley - (803) 898-7769
Email - beaslejc@dhec.sc.gov

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