Baby died of infection at Bristol's Southmead Hospital
A PREMATURE baby has died at Southmead Hospital after contracting an infection.
The child, who had not been named last night, contracted the pseudomonas infection at the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.
North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, revealed details of the outbreak, which has been traced back to its water supply, yesterday.
Babies in the unit were tested following the child's death in August and another 12 were found to have the bacteria on their skin.
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Of those, one was found to have been infected but has been treated and allowed home.
Three remain in the NICU in isolation, while eight have been discharged from the unit after being given the all-clear.
The hospital trust said it had reviewed infection control measures on the unit to minimise the risk to other vulnerable babies, with support from the Health Protection Agency.
Admissions to the intensive care unit have been reduced as a result of the outbreak and parents of other infants on the NICU have been informed about the infection.
Pseudonomas aeruginosa is commonly found in soil and groundwater and is a recognised hospital infection that affects people with weakened immune systems, such as premature babies, cancer patients and those with severe burns.
It does not cause illness when the bacteria is on the skin but patients can be at risk if the bacteria infects them by getting into their blood.
If this does happen, patients need to be treated with antibiotics as quickly as possible. Pseudomonas rarely affects healthy people.
Babies died as a result of an infection at two hospitals in Northern Ireland at the end of last year and beginning of this year.
NBT's medical director Chris Burton said that following the discovery of pseudomonas bacteria in the NICU's water supply, additional infection control measures had been implemented for staff, parents and visitors to the unit.
He said babies are being washed with sterile water and tap water is being filtered to ensure the bacteria is removed. There has also been more regular testing, while cleaning regimes have also been enhanced.
He said the hospital's estates team are reviewing the water supply.
Dr Burton said: "The actions that we are taking are based on national guidance and we are being supported in this work by the expertise of the Health Protection Agency."
Mark Evans, of the HPA, said that the organisation had been providing advice and support to the hospital trust about protecting the vulnerable babies in the NICU following the discovery of the infection.
He said the bacteria can be spread by contaminated water, inhalation of water droplets in the air, touching contaminated surfaces or from person to person through unwashed hands.
Dr Evans said: "The HPA has provided advice to the trust on measures to reduce the risk to other babies in the unit and we will continue to work with the trust to monitor the situation until confident that the risk has been minimised.
"The infection can be treated effectively with antibiotics, especially if treatment is started immediately after confirming the diagnosis."