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Infant from serratia infection at Scotland hospital; others infected

Published:Tuesday | November 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Reports surfaced in the United Kingdom (UK) media yesterday of a bacterial outbreak at the new Glasgow Royal Hospital for Children in Scotland on the weekend, resulting in the death of one premature baby, and the infection of several others.

According to the report, the babies became infected with the harmful Serratia marcescens bacteria at Scotland's newest 'super-hospital' campus. Serratia is one of the two bacteria involved in an outbreak at two Jamaican hospitals that have led to the deaths of 19 premature babies since July.

Reports out of the UK are that the premature baby who died in the maternity unit at the Glasgow hospital had "existing complex medical problems". The bacteria were also present in five other babies in the maternity unit, and seven who had left hospital, but none was giving cause for concern.

Alan Mathers, chief of medicine for women and children's services at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC), said, "Serratia marcescens can be naturally occurring in the gut and its presence on or in the body (colonisation) is not harmful in healthy people. However, given the vulnerability of premature babies, Serratia marcescens infections, where the colonised bacteria gets into the bloodstream, can occur."

Mathers said that none of the five babies in the neonatal unit, who are colonised, was giving cause for concern.

He added: "Since the increase in incidence of Serratia marcescens colonisation cases was identified as part of our routine surveillance, we have been closely monitoring the situation in line with national guidance.

"Given that there are no other cases of infection and that all the appropriate infection-control procedures are in place, the unit will continue to admit new patients as normal. Our staff are in communication with the families to keep them fully informed."

NHS GGC said that it had identified a small increase in Serratia marcescens colonisation cases in July during "routine surveillance".