Infections traced back to kids' dental clinic; parents unaware - CBS46 News

Infections traced back to kids' dental clinic; parents unaware

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JONESBORO, GA (CBS46) -

A number of pre-schoolers and school-aged children got sick after visiting an area dental clinic.

Late Friday, state officials confirmed what CBS46 already knew: that those preschoolers, who suffered from open sores in their mouths, were patients at Dentistry for Children in Jonesboro.

Children’s Health Care of Atlanta documented more than a dozen separate cases of the painful sores, caused by Lymphadenitis, in recent weeks.

When officials at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta realized there was a problem, they alerted state epidemiologists who tracked down the Jonesboro clinic as the source of the outbreak of Lymphadenitis, which can be caused by contaminated medical equipment.

Parents apparently unaware of issue

Thursday, that office voluntarily closed. Friday, it was open again.

The news surprised parents who were there to receive treatment for their kids on Friday. We spoke to a parent who said everything went great.

CBS46 Investigative Reporter Harry Samler reached out to Dentistry for Children's Corporate Office. The response came in the form of a sheriff’s deputy, hired by the clinic, asking us to leave the property; we were on public right of way.

Later, the clinic's attorney reached out to CBS46 confirming many details we uncovered.

He said "multiple sources" of possible contamination are being investigated, including some that may have come from beyond the dental office.

The attorney said the fact that the clinic was open on Friday was an indication that they "absolutely feel it is safe for patients."

After our story initially aired on Friday, Dentistry for Children clarified some details to CBS46. The clinic closed for a week, beginning Sept. 23 to install a water filtration system.

The clinic also said it was unlikely the infections came from contaminated equipment. They said DPH told them the source is likely the city's water.

What is Lymphadenitis?

According to Nancy Nydam with DPH, Lymphadenitis mainly affects the lymph nodes.

Nydam said in an emailed statement, it can cause the aforementioned sores, fever, chills and muscle aches, and can occur after a baby tooth is removed due to an inflamed tooth chamber. The procedure is similar to a root canal for an adult.

Infections are traced back to environmental bacteria that can contaminate medical equipment and devices.

Lymphadenitis bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, and it can take up to two months after a procedure for symptoms to surface.

Nydam would not comment on Dentistry for Kids in Jonesboro’s closing because it was voluntary.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said a deputy present at Dentistry for Children was there on duty. The clinic clarified that the deputy, who was in a sheriff's department car, in a sheriff's department uniform, was off-duty, and the clinic employs a deputy "every day of the year."

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