Bacterial Infection Outbreak at Virginia Mason Medical Center

The outbreak has been going on since October 2022.

By HFT Staff


Beginning in October 2022, Virginia Mason Medical Center detected an increase in cases of a specific strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria at our downtown campus. The source of transmission is still under investigation. 

The hospital immediately implemented increased safety measures, notified patients who had tested positive for the bacteria, and promptly provided treatment where necessary. While the risk of transmission is extremely low for patients, the hospital continues to take proactive steps to avoid additional transmission, including conducting environmental sampling, updating facility infrastructure, and reviewing cleaning and infection prevention practices. 

“Beginning in October 2022, Virginia Mason Medical Center detected an increase in cases of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria at our downtown campus,” says Sydney Bersante, interim president, Virginia Mason Medical Center. “We immediately implemented increased safety measures, notified patients who had tested positive for the bacteria, and promptly provided treatment where necessary. While the risk of transmission is extremely low for patients, we continue to take proactive steps to avoid additional transmission. We are continuing to investigate the source of this outbreak jointly with local and state public health partners.”  

Klebsiella pneumoniae is a type of bacteria that lives naturally in our environment and can be part of the normal bacteria that lives in a healthy digestive system. Klebsiella infections commonly occur among sick or immunocompromised patients who are receiving treatment for other conditions. Most people who have Klebsiella pneumoniae in their digestive system will never experience an infection from this organism, but occasionally it can lead to infections like a urinary tract infection. 

To date, there have been 31 confirmed Klebsiella pneumoniae infections associated with this particular strain. The latest known confirmed case was identified on April 3. We have identified seven patients who contracted this particular strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae and have passed away since our investigation began in October of 2022.  

Due to the medical complexity of these patients’ conditions, it is difficult to determine whether Klebsiella pneumoniae caused or contributed to their deaths. While the source of this strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae remains unknown, we are actively working with local, state and federal health agencies to reduce the risk of further infections. 



May 5, 2023


Topic Area: Infection Control


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