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Iowa hospital warns former patients of possible infection

Surgeons

Surgeons

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines hospital is alerting about 2,600 people who had open-heart surgery there from 2012 to 2015 that they might have been exposed to a bacterial infection.

The Des Moines Register reports that two of the former Mercy Medical Center patients have been diagnosed with an infection with the germs, called nontuberculous mycobacteria.

Iowa Department of Public Health medical director Patricia Quinlisk described the germ as “a cousin to tuberculosis, but it’s much less potent and much more slow-growing.”

She says University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics issued a similar warning earlier this year. Quinlisk says people who undergo the heart procedures tend to have weak immune systems.

Mercy Medical Center says the bacteria could have spread from a heart-lung bypass machine used in heart surgery.