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T&T: Several babies die following bacterial outbreak

April 12. 2024

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Health authorities have confirmed that several babies died at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) earlier this month as a result of a bacterial outbreak.

In a statement on Thursday night, the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) said the deaths occurred during the period April 4-7.

“It is with profound sadness that the NWRHA confirms that during this time, some of the very premature neonatal babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Port of Spain General Hospital succumbed to the infection.

“Laboratory investigations revealed the presence of three different organisms – serratia marcesens, ESBL Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Klebsiella aerogenes – all known to pose significant risks to vulnerable neonates.

“Despite administering high-dose antibiotics and providing advanced and intensive cardio-respiratory support, the infection claimed the lives of some of these preterm babies, all weighing under 1500 grams and less than 32 weeks gestational age.”

The NWRHA said that the medical team, recognising the severity of the situation, immediately initiated infectious diseases and control protocols for the treatment of late-onset neonatal sepsis, a condition known for its rapid onset and potentially devastating consequences.

“In response to this heartbreaking situation, the NICU was immediately closed to new admissions to prevent further transmission of the infection and healthy babies discharged. Rigorous sanitisation and sterilisation measures were imp, adding that its microbiology lab did tests for potential sources,” the NWRHA said, indicating also that assistance is being sought from regional organisations.

“Since April 7th, no new infection has been reported, indicating the effectiveness of these internal measures in halting the spread of the bacteria,” the NWRHA said, adding that despite their actions, some of the babies succumbed to the infection.

The NWRHA, extending condolences “to the families who are dealing with this tragic loss,” said parents were regularly updated on the babies’ conditions and all parents have been referred to its medical social work department for bereavement counselling.

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