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Sink taps harboured deadly pseudomonas infection in neo-natal unit

Published on 25/01/2012

It has emerged that sink taps were the source of the pseudomonas outbreak which killed 3 babies at a Belfast NHS hospital.

Pseudomonas is a bacterium that can cause infection in the chest, blood and urine. It is found in many natural places including plants, soil, surface or stagnant water and warm moist environments.

Sink taps were the source of the pseudomonas infection

Pseudomonas can be spread from one person another person via unwashed hands. It can live on hands and surfaces for up to two and a half hours without any harm, but multiplies in the lungs of people whose immune systems are weakened.

After the death of 3 babies in the neo-natal unit at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, an investigation found that 8 other babies have traces of the infection on their skin. They are now being closely monitored at other hospitals in the area.

It emerged yesterday that sink taps were the source of the infection.

Sink taps have previously been identified as the source of a different strain of the infection which killed a baby at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry before Christmas.

Michelle Gildernew, the chair of the assembly’s health committee, has called for taps in all neo-natal units to be replaced. She said:

"Following the tragic death of a baby in Altnagelvin Hospital from a strain of pseudomonas that was held within the taps, guidance was issued following the identification of the source of the virus.”

"We now find out that it was the taps within the Royal Jubilee Maternity neo-natal unit that were also the source of the second outbreak which saw three babies die as a result."

"The glaring question is why were the taps not replaced or investigated following the case in Altnagelvin?”

The unit at the Royal was deep cleaned at the weekend, and sterile water is now being used for nappy changing in the unit. The Health Minister stressed that there is no evidence that the bacterium was in the water system.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  NHS and Hospitals
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