MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Infected tissue from a cadaver caused the death of a Minnesota man who died following knee surgery, according to a state finding that is leading to a national investigation.
State epidemiologist Dr. Harry Hull said Thursday the Minnesota Department of Health found no link between three deaths that closely followed routine knee surgeries last month.
But Brian Lykins, 23, Willmar, was infected with Clostridium sordellii, a rare bacterium that Hull said grows naturally in cadavers as part of the decomposition process.
That bacterium was tracked to a cadaver supplied by a Georgia-based company from which tissue was taken and grafted into Lykins, he said.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking six other patients who received tissue from the same cadaver. All are alive, but one has shown some possible symptoms of infection, Hull said. He would not say where those cases appeared.
A report based on the investigation issued Thursday by the CDC encourages clinicians nationwide to test for the bacterium in patients with infections after undergoing similar procedures.
State investigators were unable to determine a cause of death for the two other men, ages 60 and 78, but Hull said he considers the investigation closed. All three men died following knee surgery at hospitals in St. Cloud and Alexandria.
"We have pursued this as vigorously as we can, as far as we can, and we cannot demonstrate a link," Hull said. He added that deaths follow roughly one in 500 knee surgeries and said it's not always possible to find a medical explanation.
The CDC is also looking into better methods of tracking and treating joint infections because of the Minnesota case, Hull said.
The discover of three patients dying within a week of each other following knee surgeries led the state to impose a temporary freeze on such procedures. It has since been lifted.
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