Two babies died after an E.coli outbreak at an NHS hospital in Swansea, prompting officials to close the maternity unit in order to prevent the infection spreading.
Hope Erin Evans died of the infection in Swansea’s Singleton hospital on 4 November, just five days after being born. Another ‘very premature’ baby contracted the infection in hospital but died in the community.
Infections can spread between units by a single contaminated visitor
An additional 3 non-fatal cases have been confirmed, and a mother, said to be Hope’s, has also tested positive for the bacteria.
The cases are believed to be linked, but health officials say there was no evidence the infection has spread further. An investigation will now be launched into how the cross-infection occurred.
As a precaution, the health board has temporarily restricted the neonatal unit to admissions for babies of 36 weeks gestation or longer, and the hospital has undergone a deep clean.
ESBL E.coli is not the same as the E.coli 0157 strain which causes food poisoning, and can lead to serious infections like meningitis and blood poisoning. ESBL E.coli is resistant to most antibiotics, with only a limited group of intravenous and oral antibiotics proving effective.
Microbiologist Prof Hugh Pennington said: "It's possible that it could have got into the unit by someone who didn't know they had it and wasn't ill, and unfortunately infected one of these babies.”
“These bugs can be quite persistent."
Possible transmission methods included someone not wiping their hands thoroughly after using the lavatory, he said, or hand-to-hand contact. Whilst the infection at Singleton Hospital has been contained, superbugs are a problem in many NHS hospitals.
One of the benefits for patients with private medical insurance is the choice of treatment in a private hospital with a low rate of infection. For example, the Sancta Maria Hospital is a private hospital situated in Swansea. The hospital has had no known cases of MRSA, and all patients who could potentially be carrying infections are screened before visiting.
Patients with private health insurance will be able to choose which hospital they want to be treated in, so search our free hospital database now, or compare health insurance policies online.
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