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Hospital Warns of Waterborne Bacteria After 3 Infants Die

5 babies have recovered or are recovering at Pennsylvania's Geisinger Medical Center
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2019 9:25 AM CDT
A newborn baby rests in an incubator.   (Getty Images/mycan)

(Newser) – A Pennsylvania hospital is turning away premature babies after three contracted pseudomonas infection and died. Eight premature babies, all born at less than 27 weeks of gestation, fell ill at Danville's Geisinger Medical Center as a result of the waterborne bacteria discovered in July, reports CNN. Four were "successfully treated" and one is now receiving antibiotics. But three babies have died in the past two months, perhaps as "a result of the infection complicating their already vulnerable state," Chief Medical Officer Dr. Edward Hartle says in a statement, per USA Today. The CDC notes "those on breathing machines" are especially at risk of life-threatening infections, which "can be spread on the hands of healthcare workers or by equipment that gets contaminated and is not properly cleaned."

Geisinger's director of infection prevention and control, Dr. Mark Shelly, tells the AP that the bacteria is believed to have come from "someplace outside of the neonatal intensive care unit," as water cultures there tested negative for pseudomonas. Still, the hospital has taken "extensive measures" to eradicate the bacteria, which is often harmless in healthy people. These include "achieving optimal chlorination in water lines, improving and maintaining vigilance in donor breast milk processing, routine tap water cultures, [and] increased deep cleaning of our neonatal intensive care unit," a rep tells CNN. In the meantime, mothers likely to give birth prematurely and infants born at less than 32 weeks of gestation are being sent to other hospitals "out of an abundance of caution," per Hartle's statement. (Read more bacteria stories.)

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