This is a rare type of infection which affects all ages although young children are particularly affected. Other groups such as babies and infants with a medical condition or a weakened immune system are also vulnerable.
These bacteria cause a variety of infections within the bloodstream and nervous system which can be fatal. One example of this is meningitis.
This is known as E sakazakii for short.
The enterobacter sakazakii bacteria
These rod shaped bacteria have been linked to several outbreaks of this illness which have occurred in newborn babies, especially those which have been born prematurely. Many of these have occurred in neonatal baby units in various countries around the world.
Why does this illness affect babies and infants more than adults?
One reason for this is the fact that babies and infants have less stomach acid than adults which means that they are less effective at killing off infectious bacteria.
Another factor is that they have underdeveloped immune systems which cannot fight off disease and infection as well as an adult’s.
Causes of enterobacter sakazakii infection
This is difficult to pinpoint although the spate of outbreaks amongst babies and infants suggest that infant formulas may be to blame.
Note: an infant formula is a type of powder which is milk based and contains all the vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates needed to support growth and development.
An infant formula is often preferred to breastfeeding.
The powdered formula appears to be a greater risk than the liquid based versions. The reason for this is that even both versions undergo heat treatment in order to kill any bacteria and sterilise the product; the liquid formula undergoes this for longer period of time which ensures that it is properly sterilised.
So, powdered infant formulas are not sterile compared to the liquid version which means that they are at greater risk of infection by the enterobacter sakazakii bacteria.
There is more than one strain of E sakazakii bacteria. Some strains are harmless but others are pathogenic which means that they cause disease and infection.
Symptoms of enterobacter sakazakii infection
These bacteria infect the bloodstream and nervous system which causes the following symptoms in babies and infants:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Unable to feed or difficulty in doing so
These are symptomatic of the following conditions:
These can also cause hydrocephalus, brain abscesses and problems with growth and development.
Long term complications of this infection include autoimmune diseases and neurological damage.
Treatment for enterobacter sakazakii infection
Antibiotics are usually effective at treating this infection although over the last few years there has been a growing resistance to antibiotics by various strains of bacteria.
Prevention of enterobacter sakazakii infection
This means ensuring that appropriate food safety procedures are put in place as well as using ingredients that confirm to the highest standards.
One option is to use liquid infant formulas instead of the powdered versions.
Food Poisoning Guide
- Food Poisoning
- What is food poisoning?
- Food poisoning or gastroenteritis?
- High risk for food poisoning
- Foods which are likely to cause food poisoning
- Types of food poisoning
- Chicken food poisoning
- Beef food poisoning
- Pork food poisoning
- Fish food poisoning
- Ciguatera poisoning
- Scombroid poisoning
- Bacterial food poisoning
- E coli
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Clostridium botulinum
- Campylobacter jejuni
- Vibrio parahaemolyticus
- Vibrio cholerae
- Bacillus cereus
- Clostridium perfringens
- Yersinia Enterocolitica
- Enterobacter sakazakii
- Viral food poisoning
- Entamoeba histolytica
- Mushroom toxins
- Red kidney bean toxins
- Shellfish toxins
- Causes of food poisoning
- Symptoms of food poisoning
- Diagnosing food poisoning
- Treatment for food poisoning
- Home based treatment
- Medical treatment
- Follow up treatment
- Complications of food poisoning
- Lactose intolerance
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney failure
- Haemolytic uraemic syndrome
- Reactive arthritis
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Reporting food poisoning
- Preventing food poisoning
- Cross contamination
- Food irradiation
- Food safety and your family
- Pregnancy and food poisoning
- Babies and food poisoning
- Children and food poisoning
- Teenagers and food poisoning
- Elderly and food poisoning
- Research into food poisoning
- Food Poisoning FAQs