01/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 02:02

Edwin Poots faces questions on baby infection

Category: Northern Ireland

Published: 25th Jan 2012 08:51:17

There are questions to be answered about the handling of the pseudomonas outbreak, which led to the deaths of three babies at a Belfast hospital, according to the chair of the assembly's health committee.

Michelle Gildernew said the issue will arise at a meeting later.

It emerged on Tuesday that sink taps were the source of the infection in the neo-natal unit at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital.

A seventh case has been confirmed.

Sink taps were also identified as the source of a different strain of the infection which affected three babies at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry before Christmas. One of those infants died.

Ms Gildernew has now called for taps in all neo-natal units to be replaced.

"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," she said.

"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?

"I am calling, very strongly, for all the taps in all our neo-natal units to be replaced with modern fixtures that will prevent any further outbreaks emanating from this source."

It emerged on Tuesday that eight other babies have traces of the infection on their skin. They are being closely monitored at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, Antrim Area Hospital and Craigavon Area Hospital.

The unit at the Royal was deep cleaned at the weekend after six babies were found to be infected.

Sterile water is now being used for nappy changing in the neo-natal unit.

The Health Minister, Edwin Poots, has stressed that there is no evidence that the bacterium was in the water system.

He said all taps and related pipe work in the affected areas of the hospital were being replaced.

New ultraviolet light taps which kill bacteria at source will be introduced in the neo-natal unit as a result of the infection.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is found widely in soil and stagnant water. It does not usually cause illness in healthy people but can pose a serious threat to people with weak immune systems.

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BBC News, 2012. Edwin Poots faces questions on baby infection [Online] (Updated 25th Jan 2012)
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