Contaminated drip linked to three newborn blood poisoning cases
Three more cases of newborns infected with a contaminated drip that killed one on Sunday at the Guys’ and St Thomas’ hospital in London have been reported yesterday.
With these three new cases it brings the total number of babies infected to 18. They all have been taken into neonatal intensive care units in nine different hospitals, and are reported to be responding to antibiotics.
Public Health England confirmed all newborns started displaying symptoms of septicaemia last week and the hospitals were put on alert on Wednesday.
The cases are linked to a batch of liquid intravenous feed called parental nutrition, which is given directly into the bloodstream of babies, as they cannot be fed by mouth.
Records show a total of 162 units of the feed were sent out from the contaminated batch to more than 20 hospitals, a mix of private and NHS, in last few weeks.
The contaminated drip batches have been withdrawn since. However, the health officials have warned further cases could emerge in coming weeks as the tests are carried out.
Both Public Health England and the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are investigating the outbreaks.
The source of contamination has not been fully identified but it has been confirmed that the blood poisoning was caused by a common bacterium known as Bacillus cereus – causing food borne illness – widely found in the environment in dust, soil and vegetation.
The liquid feed is made by ITH Pharma, a London-based drugs company. Karen Hamling, managing director of the firm, has reassured the public that there are no longer any concerns.
In a brief statement Karen said: “From investigations carried out so far, it would appear the potential contamination is linked to a sourced single raw material ingredient. We have instituted a recall of the limited number of batches which could potentially have been affected and all stock has been removed from circulation. Given this action, there is no reason for patients, their families or healthcare professionals to be concerned.”
Born prematurely, the baby who died on Sunday at Guys’ and St Thomas’ hospital has been named as nine-day-old Yousef al-Kharboush.
An investigation has been opened into Yousef’s death on 5th June 2014 by the senior coroner for Southwark, Dr Andrew Harris.