According to leaders at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, approximately 2,600 open-heart patients may have been exposed to a bacterial infection. Those patients had their procedures performed between 2012 and 2015, and they may have been exposed to germs called Nontuberculous Mycobacteria. The bacteria is frequently referred to as MTM, and it is a less potent form of tuberculosis.
While healthy individuals have a relatively easy time overcoming the issue, those who have open-heart surgery have a weaker immune system. The infection usually takes several months or years to develop and is not contagious. It can generally be treated effectively once it is detected in an individual. Signs of a possible infection include redness or pus around an incision made during the surgery as well as lingering fever or night sweats. Doctors first discovered the issue when preparing two patients for follow-up procedures.