9 patients now dead amid bacteria outbreak at Virginia Mason

SEATTLE — Nine patients at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center have now died after being infected by Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, among 33 total infections.

The bacteria first appeared at the hospital’s downtown campus in October of 2022. When KIRO 7 last reported on this in late April, four infected patients had died among 31 total infections.

Klebsiella can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and infections in bloodstreams, wounds and surgical sites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The hospital maintains that it is not sure whether the bacteria itself was what killed the nine patients, citing the “complexity” of their conditions. Klebsiella pneumoniae can also live in someone’s system for months without causing symptoms, making it difficult to figure out where and when someone might have been infected.

“While the risk of transmission is extremely low for patients, we continue to take proactive steps to avoid additional transmission,” Interim Virginia Mason President Sydney Bersante said in a news release. “We are continuing to investigate the source of this outbreak jointly with local and state public health partners.”

The last confirmed infection was on May 4.