(CBS News) Two newborn girls born at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, Calif. have contracted salmonella poisoning within three weeks of each other, prompting an inquiry into the matter.
"We don't have an answer yet. However, there has been intense investigation," Dr. John Walker of Stanislaus County Public Health told CBS Sacramento.
Walker admitted that salmonella poisonings in newborns are really rare, but the two cases seem to be isolated and the fear that the infection would turn into an outbreak has been quelled. Doctors Medical Center added in a statement that they are taking the claims very seriously.
"Fortunately this doesn't appear to be a wide spread issue; however, state department of health is looking closely and hopeful all of us get answers soon," said Walker.
Salmonella poisoning or salmonellaosis is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, fever and cramps for 12 to 72 hours after infection, but the illness lasts four to seven days, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. While most people recover, young children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals can have severe infections. About 400 people die each year with acute salmonellosis.
Sheila Vega, the mother of one of the girls - Skylin - asked for authorities to look into the matter. She told the Modesto Bee that the illness could cause permanent damage to her child, and she is still not safe because she is still is testing positive for the bacteria. Skylin was first diagnosed on April 19 after a stool test came back positive. She had been staying in the neonatal intensive care unit because she was born six weeks premature.
Sheila believes her daughter was poisoned by the formula the hospital gave her. Since Sheila took blood pressure medication during her pregnancy, the doctors gave Skylin pre-mixed formula as a precaution. Walker disputed those claims to the Modesto Bee, adding the state hasn't said if it was related to a commercial product.
Abbott Laboratories, the maker of the Similac formula used at the hospital, said Tuesday that there's no evidence formula caused the illness to the Modesto Bee.
"The quality and integrity of Abbott products are tested at every stage, from selection and approval of ingredients throughout production," the company said. "All of Abbott's infant formula products pass over 1,500 quality checks prior to release to hospitals and the public."