There are numerous advantages to breastfeeding an infant, but Taiwan has now recorded its first case of an infant contracting meningitis as a result of the mother's breast milk being infected with salmonella bacteria.
Experts stress that this is an extremely rare case and underscore that breastfeeding is always the best option, provided attention is given to cleanliness and hygiene.
The case is also the world's first in which a child has been infected by the salmonella panama virus and was the subject of an article by the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Although such cases are extremely rare, the report urges practicing doctors to be on the alert to avoid a repeat of the incident.
The infant, in excellent health at birth, was sent home with its mother after three days. Two weeks later, it developed a high fever of 39?C and was sent to a hospital in central Taiwan where it presented with symptoms of diarrhoea and eating disorders. After the bacterial infection developed into meningitis, the infant also contracted hydrocephalus, which required drainage treatment.
Siu Leung Kei (
Chen Chao-hui (
Siu added that if a child repeatedly suffers from bacterial infections despite being fed in a safe and hygienic environment, one would have to suspect that it was the milk powder or breast milk that was infected. Adults infected with salmonella usually develop gastroenteritis, but infants have a lower resistance and their immune systems are not yet fully developed, and the result may therefore be that the salmonella bacteria leave the intestinal system and attack the brain.