MRSA found on skin babies’ skin

FIVE babies have tested positively for MRSA on their skin (known as colonisation) over the past few weeks in the Neonatal Unit at Craigavon Area Hospital, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust has confirmed.

None of these babies were infected with MRSA. Three have since been discharged and the others were said to be clinically well.

Trust Medical Director, Dr John Simpson explained: “MRSA is a common type of germ that can live harmlessly on the skin or nose of around one in three people without them suffering any ill effects.

“Due to their vulnerability, we screen babies in our neonatal unit twice weekly. This is to identify those who may have a healthcare associated infection to ensure that they are given the appropriate treatment and to minimise the risk.

“The Trust already has robust infection prevention and control practices in place. We continually look for ways to strengthen our infection prevention and control measures and to respond quickly and appropriately to any infection risks. In this case, we have implemented enhanced infection control measures with these babies, parents, staff and visitors and we are conducting confidential screening of all staff who have been in contact with mothers and babies.”

Southern Trust hospitals continue to have some of the lowest rates of infection in the UK.

Responding to the news local MP David Simpson said: “As a parent I understand the worry that people will have at this development. Every parent wants to be assured that if their child falls sick then they will be afforded the best possible care while receiving treatment in hospital.

“As I understand it from discussions I have already had with the Southern Trust about this matter, this is not an outbreak of infection for none of the babies showed any symptom of infection and three of the five babies concerned have since been allowed to go home, while the other two have not required any specialist care resulting from this type of infection. What it has been is the detection on the skin of an organism that many people of all age groups already have. This has been less about an outbreak of infection and more about greater and more in depth deep clean and swabbing highlighting more detail.

“I have been in regular contact with the Trust since this development and will be meeting senior personnel before the end of the week.”

He went on: “Ever since the issue of infection or possible infection among babies in hospital care first became an issue of public concern following an outbreak of Pseudomonas in the Belfast Trust I and my party colleagues have been maintaining a very close contact with the Southern Trust. We have met senior personnel, visited the maternity and neo-natal units to inspect cleaning and hygiene and have sat in on the meetings of the Trust’s infection control team.

“We will continue to keep right on top of this both in the interests of patients, the general public and of hard working staff.

“Again though I want to point out that the message to parents is very clear. If your child falls sick and requires hospital care, it is far, far better to have your child admitted to hospital than to do otherwise. They will receive greater medical care there than elsewhere. Parents should not allow any understand anxiety around issues like this to delay their child receiving what could be life saving treatment.”