Confirmation by federal authorities Dec. 28 that a third infant was sick from the Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria has prompted Wal-mart, Walgreens and Supervalu stores to remove cans of Enfamil Newborn powder from the shelves.
According to The New York Post, a Missouri infant stricken by the bacteria has died, while another from Illinois and the third, from Oklahoma, are both recovering from their illnesses.
“ no evidence any of these cases is connected,” Barbara Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control, told the Post. The third child, according to CNN, was fed a different brand of baby formula than the powdered Enfamil, which sickened the other two children.
The illnesses are being investigated by their respective state’s health departments. A spokesman for Mead Johnson Nutrition, makers of Enfamil, told CNN that the bacteria is commonly present throughout the environment, and sources other than the formula were possible for the illness. He added that Mead had tested its products and found no evidence of the bacteria.
According to a CDC Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report from 2002, the Cronobacter bacteria is “a rare cause of invasive infection with high death rates in neonates…the infection was associated with the presence of the organism in commercial powdered formula fed to the infant.”
In an online post, the MarlerClark Law Firm said that most cases of Cronobacter sakazakii come from powdered infant formula contaminated with the bacterium.
According to The Atlantic magazine, powdered infant formula is not sterile and a CDC report found that 50 to 80 percent of the infections caused by the bacteria have powdered infant formula as “both the vehicle and the source (direct and indirect).” The magazine claimed that infection with this bacteria in a home setting, not connected to formula, is exceedingly rare.
Suggestions for making sure any bacteria in the powdered formula is rendered harmless before feeding to an infant include:
• Mixing infant formula with water that is headed to at least 158°F.
• Following manufacturer’s instructions for preparation exactly.
• Throwing out mixed formula if not used within 24 hours.