Five babies infected in Flinders Medical Centre

Five babies have been infected by a rare bacteria in an Adelaide hospital, with one child in a serious condition.

Children in the neonatal unit of Flinders Medical Centre have been infected with Serratia Marcescens, which can cause respiratory issues and can even lead to pneumonia.

One baby is in a serious but stable condition, another has recovered and three others have no symptoms.

The first case was confirmed on May 18, with the child being immediately isolated and treated with antibiotics.

A second child tested positive almost two weeks later after using the same bed space as the other child even though it had been deep cleaned.

Southern Adelaide Local Health Director Dr Diana Lawrence said the bacteria can cause “infection in vulnerable and unwell patients”.

“Once we became aware of the second baby displaying symptoms, we immediately launched a thorough investigation into the origins of the infection by testing the environment where the bacteria can grow, and for precaution, tested all 40 babies within the unit and all recent discharges,” she said.

“We have exceptionally high levels of infection control within the unit and a very low rate of hospital-acquired infections, so given another three babies returned tests showing they are carrying the bacteria, we have taken immediate action.”

Of more than 200 environmental swabs taken within the unit so far, one positive result has been returned from a hand basin which has been removed and will be replaced.

Dr Lawrence said while the internal investigation was under way, extra precautions had been implemented within the neonatal unit to protect babies and their families.

“We are taking all measures possible to prevent further cases and to maintain the safety of the babies within the unit,” she said.

“We will continue to test and screen babies and our staff will be wearing gloves and yellow gowns when providing care to babies.

“As an extra precaution, we will temporarily minimise new patient admissions, except for urgent cases.”

The last known case of Serratia Marcescens at Flinders Medical Centre Neonatal Unit was about 20 years ago.

With AAP

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