University Hospital of North Staffordshire bug kills two babies
TWO new-born babies have died and a third is still in isolation after a rare bug swept through a hospital department.
The outbreak at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UHNS) also spread to four more premature babies who have now recovered and been allowed home.
The complex's neonatal intensive care unit had to be closed to new cases to stop the disease attacking other infants.
And the whole special care baby unit in the top floor of the four-year-old maternity centre was deep-cleaned.
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The deaths also prompted hospital managers to bring in experts from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to review infection control practices.
Post-mortem examinations on the babies, born before 28 weeks, found they died from the Serratia Marcescens bacteria.
Further tests confirmed the link between the disease and the hospital.
The bug is found in the stomach and bowel of children and while not harmful to healthy people, in rare cases it causes serious infection in the vulnerable, such as pre-term babies.
The outbreak started in July but details were only revealed for the first time at a hospital meeting yesterday.
Although the unit continued to admit babies born in the centre, it was closed to admissions from other hospitals which make up the regional network of baby units. The restrictions stayed in place for two weeks.
The surviving infants – including the baby still in intensive care – were found to be carriers of the bug and did not suffer the illness itself.
But they were placed in isolation incubators while their treatment continued for conditions linked to be being born prematurely.
Last night, chief executive Julie Bridgewater, below left, passed the trust's condolences to the two bereaved families. She said: "We identified the infection in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It can affect babies born extremely prematurely.
"Sadly two babies who died, both born before 28 weeks, had this uncommon infection and post-mortems confirmed Serratia Marcescens as the cause of death. The families of the two babies were informed at the time of this infection." UHNS infection experts said parents of babies already discharged had no need to worry.
Consultant Microbiologist Dr Jeorge Orendi said: "As a precaution we temporarily closed NICU to new admissions.
"The five other babies who were carrying the organism, but not unwell, were isolated.
"One of those continues to be treated on the unit for other conditions and will remain here until well enough to go home.
"In addition we carried out a deep clean of neonatal intensive care and reviewed infection prevention practice immediately with assistance from the HPA.
"Further tests on the organisms isolated performed by the HPA confirmed an outbreak."
Was your baby affected by the outbreak?