More Mycobacterium Infections Confirmed at Pediatric Practice

Dentistry Today


The Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) now reports 22 mycobacterial abscessus infections, with 3 confirmed and 19 probable cases, as a result of pulpotomies performed on children between the ages of 3 and 9 years old at the Children’s Dental Group in Anaheim, Calif. All 22 children have been hospitalized at some point, with 6 currently in the hospital. The pulpotomies were performed between April 6 and July 28 of this year.             

The OCHCA has ordered the clinic to stop using water for its procedures since 5 on-site water samples have tested positive for mycobacteria. A plan to replace the water system is underway and will be submitted to the OCHCA for approval. Until then, the practice is limited to x-rays and exams. The Children’s Dental Group also is reaching out to the parents and caregivers of the approximately 500 patients who had pulpotomies during the suspected timeframe.

“We are asking all of these patients, even in the absence of any symptoms, to come in for x-rays, an examination, and a health history so that we can evaluate whether any signs of infection exist and prescribe appropriate care if necessary,” the company said in an official statement.

The OCHCA is working with the Dental Board of California, the California Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the outbreak. To prevent these types of outbreaks, the Dental Board of California requires licensed dentists to adhere to California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 1005 — Minimum Standards for Infection Control, which must be conspicuously posted in each dental office.

“CCR 1005 (b)(2) requires a written protocol be developed, maintained, and periodically updated for proper instrument processing, operatory cleanliness, and management of injuries. The protocol shall be made available to all dental health care professionals in the (DHCPs) in the dental office,” said Joyia Emard, information officer with the Office of Public Affairs, California Department of Consumer Affairs.

The code also requires all DHCPs to comply with infection control precautions and enforce its mandated minimum precautions to protect both patients and personnel and to minimize the transmission of pathogens in the healthcare setting, as required by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

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