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UCLH increases hygiene

The University College Hospital, London has taken measures to increase hygiene levels following the news that four babies born prematurely were found to be infected with a superbug which is resistant to common antibiotics. Of the four babies that contracted the ‘gram-negative’ bug at the hospital, one died as a result, two died of other causes and one survived. A further 11 babies at the unit were found to be carrying various types of bacteria over a six-week period.

[quote top=A University College London Hospital (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said]Development of antibiotic resistance is unfortunately a common occurrence for all neonatal units, even more so in units such as ours which care for the most premature babies.

During July we became concerned because we found particular bacteria on routine surveillance (gentamicin resistant gram negative organisms). We responded accordingly, including increased cleaning and changing our routine antibiotics to those which we knew would kill these organisms.[/quote]

A Health Protection Agency (HPA) spokesperson added: “It is not uncommon to see outbreaks of infection in neonatal units caused by a range of bacteria with some level of antibiotic resistance. Premature babies are vulnerable to these types of infection, which are opportunistic and tend to affect the vulnerable, very young, elderly or those with a weakened immune system.

“The HPA’s support has included DNA ‘fingerprinting’ of bacteria to identify the different strains, and investigation of antibiotic resistance. We are also providing advice to the hospital on infection control measures and in the identification of appropriate antibiotic therapy. The HPA is continuing to work with UCLH to monitor the situation.

UCH  has also recently launched an infection control campaign to remind staff and patients of the importance of hygiene and hand washing.