GREENVILLE, S.C. - Federal health officials are focusing on water as the possible source of bacteria that infected 15 patients at Greenville Memorial Hospital since March.
Officials said the infection may have contributed to the deaths of three patients, The Greenville News reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the bacteria are found normally in soil and dust. Dr. Joe Perz says it's also found in water supplied.
Perz says any piece of equipment in the surgical environment that could have contact with water must be carefully reviewed.
Hospital officials initially thought a piece of equipment in one operating room was the source of the infection. That and other equipment were removed and the operating room was closed.
The hospital switched to sterile water in surgical procedures.
Most of the patients at Greenville Memorial had undergone cardiac surgery. Two had abdominal surgery and one had a neurological operation, officials said.
Dr. Alice Guh, another CDC epidemiologist, said the hospital seems to have used good infection control standards, so water seems the most likely culprit.
Hospital officials said their investigation examined two pieces of medical equipment in the operating room that each use tap water, a potential source of the bacteria.