Waterborne Bacteria Outbreak Hits Hospital NICU

Pseudomonas infection leaves 3 infants dead and five sick

October 9, 2019

A Pennsylvania hospital has closed its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to premature infants and stepped up its disinfection process after it was determined three preterm infants died and five were sickened due to a waterborne bacteria present in the unit within the last few months, UPI reports.

The NICU at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, recently experienced an increase in pseudomonas infections. The bacteria which causes this infection grows in water and is commonly found in the environment. Individuals with compromised or immature immune systems, such as premature infants, are susceptible to the infection. Of the five babies who became ill, one infant is still receiving treatment and four have recovered.

Hospital officials say staff have taken extensive measures to eliminate the infection, such as ensuring optimal chlorination in water lines, conducting routine tap water cultures, and increasing the deep cleaning of the NICU. Officials believe the bacteria was confined to the NICU.

Waterborne illnesses are among health care-associated infections (HAIs) that sicken about 722,00 U.S. hospital patients each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CMM recommends that environmental services (EVS) staff thoroughly clean and disinfect each of the four zones in a hospital room—restroom, countertops, floors, and high-touch areas— to eliminate the pathogens that cause HAIs.


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