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Sunday 25th August 2019

Bug kills two premature babies

28th September 2012

Two premature babies have died after contracting the Serratia marcescens bug at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UHNS) in Stoke-on-Trent.

Baby Ward

A third baby is still being kept in isolation after the outbreak at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Four other premature babies were infected but they have since recovered.

The hospital has reassured parents whose babies have been discharged from the unit that they had nothing to worry about.

Details of the infection were only revealed this week, though the Serratia marcescens bug shut the unit to new admissions for two weeks in July.

Trust chief executive Julia Bridgewater said: “The trust identified an infection in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in July, serratia marcescens, that can affect babies born extremely premature.

“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 trust has offered its condolences to the families of the two babes which died.

Consultant microbiologist Jeorge Orendi said that after the outbreak the trust reviewed infection prevention practice immediately with the help of the Health Protection Agency and also carried out a deep clean of the unit.

Serratia marcescens is an organism that occurs naturally in the gut and is often not harmful but can be serious for people who are vulnerable to infection, such as premature babies.

Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said the case was unusual because hospitals are generally good at keeping them such bugs under control.


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