A third baby has died after an outbreak of a deadly infection at the Royal Hospital in Belfast, hospital staff said today.
An investigation had already been launched after two babies died yesterday after the outbreak of Pseudomonas.
Admissions have been restricted to all but the most seriously ill babies who cannot be treated elsewhere, but staff believe the infection has not spread to other areas of the Royal Victoria Hospital site.
The first two babies to die were born prematurely.
Dr Richard Wright, associate medical director at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said: “We are engaged in a fairly major investigation to identify the cause of the infection.”
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is bacteria found in soil, water, plants and animals, and is particularly harmful to those who are already ill.
A representative for The Royal said the situation is being kept under constant review.
“Sadly two ill babies have died whose deaths may be linked to this outbreak. We are supporting these families at this very difficult time.
The hospital is asking everyone, including parents and guardians, to be diligent in their hand hygiene when entering and leaving the unit.
The North’s Health Minister Edwin Poots said expectant mothers are likely to be transferred to other hospitals in the Republic and Britain.
He also sent his sympathies to the babies’ families.
“This is a serious incident. The priority now is to identify the source of the infection and minimise the risk of spread to other extremely vulnerable babies in the unit,” he said.
“I have asked the trust to work with the Public Health Agency to ensure all necessary steps are swiftly taken to identify the source of the infection so that we contain it and reduce the risk of spreading.
“I have asked the Belfast Trust and the Public Health Agency to keep me fully informed.
“I have also directed the Health and Social Care Board to work with the trust to minimise any potential impact on the availability of neonatal intensive care cots.”