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Infection risk closed neonatal ICU

The unit at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital was shut for two days after staff identified a potential outbreak of ESBL Klebsiella in a small number of babies in the unit.

The incident occurred last August after the results of a routine screening programme came to the attention of management, said a hospital spokesperson.

The babies suffered no clinical effects and were cared for until discharge in a separate isolation area, added the spokesperson.

“The Rotunda Hospital identified a potential outbreak of ESBL Klebsiella in a small number of babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  These cases came to the attention of management as a result of the rigorous routine screening programme, which is in place in the unit.

“It is important to distinguish between ‘infection’ and ‘colonisation’. No babies were ‘infected’ with the ESBL Klebsiella, but instead, routine surveillance cultures noted that a small number of babies were identified as being colonised by this bacterium. No clinical effects occurred because of this surveillance finding.”

The NICU was closed for two days to reduce the census in the unit and enhanced vigilance and surveillance were put in place, in keeping with best practice and relevant national guidelines, said the spokesperson.

Klebsiella infections refer to many different types of healthcare-associated infections caused by the Klebsiella bacteria. These infections include pneumonia and bloodstream infections.

The incident was discussed at a hospital board meeting last October, with much of the discussion redacted. This was because it was under ongoing management, the spokesperson said.

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