Hospitals advised on baby death bacteria

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NEW advice was published yesterday to help hospitals prevent contamination from a bacteria which led to the deaths of four babies.

Three were being treated in hospital in Belfast and the fourth in Londonderry in Northern Ireland when they were infected with the pseudomonas bacteria.

Hospitals across England have been ordered to carry out regular checks of their water systems in the light of the outbreak which affected seven babies in total in Belfast.

Tests found the infection in taps in the special care baby unit.

Chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies said it was important the NHS took “all the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of contamination” from the bacteria which can cause significant infections in very sick patients.

“The guidance we are issuing today reminds healthcare providers of the importance of high standards of infection control,” she said.

It offered advice on best practice to prevent the bacteria in specialist care units and also gave gave information on how to manage risks.

The Government announced yesterday it was making £500,000 available for new research into antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Prof Davies said further research into the problem was “urgently required”.

The decision follows a report from a panel of experts who warned antibiotic resistance to the latest generation of drugs used to treat the severest infections was a threat to both human and animal health.

Resistance has emerged particularly in the treatment of E.coli infection and there are concerns resistance in cattle, pigs and poultry could be spread to humans through the food chain.