The bacteria naturally exist in our environment and have been found in powdered formula and milk. Here, some tips to avoid contamination.
A tiny microbe gained national prominence at the end of 2011 when four U.S. infants were diagnosed with Cronobacter infections. The children lived in Florida, Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Two of the children died from the infection.
Cronobacter is a group of bacteria that are found naturally in the environment. It can survive in very dry conditions and has been found in dry foods such as powdered milk and formula, herbal teas, starches, and waste water.
Initially, factory contamination of powdered infant formula was suspected, but this was disproved following a thorough investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is most likely that the infants contracted the disease in their homes or communities, possibly from contamination of their formula powder after it had been opened, or from the use of contaminated water to mix it.
Cronobacter infections are rare. There were only 13 cases reported to the CDC in 2011. It can cause blood infections and meningitis and is most lethal to the youngest infants, especially those born prematurely and those with weakened immune systems.