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Deadly bacteria found on hospital taps, seventh case confirmed

The Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital has confirmed that the bacteria that killed three babies has been traced back to several taps in the neonatal unit .

Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

AS A SEVENTH case of the pseudomonas infection was confirmed at Belfast’s Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, a deep clean had traced the bacteria to several taps in the hospital’s neonatal unit.

Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Edwin Poots said that the organism was found in a number of taps in the intensive care area of the neonatal unit of the hospital.

In a statement addressing the outbreak, the Minister said the bacteria was difficult to eradicate and infections occur mainly in immuno-compromised or debilitated patients.

“Unfortunately babies in neonatal units are already vulnerable due to clinical conditions and varying degrees of prematurity. Their immune systems are not fully developed, and this makes them less able to withstand infections including those that would not cause problems in healthy babies,” he explained.

Poots offered his condolences to the families of the three victims. One baby died on 6 January, while another passed away on 13 January. A third child died on 19 January.

Another four babies have also contracted the infection. One recovered from the pseudomonas but later died from unrelated causes. Two babies recovered and are still in the neonatal unit while one child has pneumonia and is being treated as potentially infected.

A further six babies were colonised – meaning the bacteria was found on their skin – but were not infected.

The neonatal unit will not reopen until all remedial work is complete, said Poots. The Trust Health Estates team is currently working to remove and replace all the infected taps and related pipework. It is understood that the water system has not been compromised.

According to BBC, new ultraviolet light taps which kill bacteria at source will now introduced. Previous cases of the bacteria, which causes infections in the blood stream, lungs or urine, were also traced back to taps and sinks in Altnagelvin.

Poots is to be questioned about the outbreak by an assembly health committee later today.

Read: ‘No active infection’ now in hospital unit where three babies died>

More: Deep clean under way at Belfast neo-natal ward>

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