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One baby dies, others ill after bacteria outbreak

The Local · 21 Oct 2012, 14:19

Published: 21 Oct 2012 14:19 GMT+02:00

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The newborn boy, who was born with a heart defect, is thought to have died from blood poisoning. He had undergone an operation in the Berlin Charité hospital – Germany's largest teaching hospital – five days before his death, head of neonatal care Christoph Bührer confirmed.

He and 15 other babies are thought to have contracted the Serratia bacteria. Seven of them babies are being treated while the others who were found to have the bacteria were not deemed to be in danger. It is not yet clear where the babies picked up the infection.

The hospital has put two of its five specialised neonatal wards on lock-down, meaning no more babies can be admitted.

“We are looking for the cause of the problem here [in the Charité], not in others [hospitals],” said Bührer. The bacteria were not found when the baby was examined before his heart operation pointing to a source of infection at the Charité rather than the referring clinic.

Medical director at the Charité, Ulrich Frei added that the babies would not be moved elsewhere.

Serratia bacteria come from the intestines, but also survive outside of the human body. An infection is particularly dangerous for newborns and very ill babies. Frei stressed that “the environment is full of germs,” and that staff at the Charité were zealous on hygiene.

All creams, solutions and baby soap have been inspected and thrown out from the wards. Staff were currently moving all the babies in one ward so the others could be disinfected, Frei said.

But the health spokesman for the city state’s Green party has called for stricter hygiene management in Berlin hospitals. Money should not come into the equation, said Heiko Thomas.

Story continues below…

The case is similar, but less severe, than a different bacterial infection in Bremen last year. Three babies died there and the state prosecutor launched an investigation against the now former head neonatal doctor for negligent manslaughter.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:13 October 21, 2012 by charlenej
I'm often shocked at how health care professionals here often don't use gloves. Several times when having blood taken, etc., I have to ask them to use gloves and they always get their feathers ruffled about it. It's odd for a country that is otherwise so highly regulated.
15:22 October 21, 2012 by AClassicRed
It's a similar, though not direct correlation, but while having a haircut the other day I was surprised I was offered a communal styling station to use: meaning combs, brushes, etc. were there that others had used. No disinfectant, as normally used in shops and salons in the US, which would/could definitely spread bacteria or things such as head lice.

I've experienced the same thing, Charlene. Having some routine blood work done, since I'm allergic to latex, I asked that another type glove be used. The nurse blinked at me, and said they didn't normally use gloves for that, although I did see they were available in the room. I had to insist.
15:29 October 21, 2012 by charlenej
I'm also allergic to latex. I learned long ago to bring my own vinyl gloves with me. It will make your life much easier, trust me.
16:20 October 21, 2012 by The-ex-pat

Come to think about it, I had a blood test last week and gloves were not used either..........
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