A potentially fatal strain of E coli that is resistant to antibiotics has been found on premature babies in a hospital’s neonatal unit.
Thirteen babies at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, south east London, were identified as carrying the bacteria on their skin, South London Healthcare NHS Trust said. Five of them have since been discharged.
The unit was closed to avoid admissions after the discovery earlier this month and remains shut.
A trust spokesman said: “We can confirm that the neonatal unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital has detected some cases of resistant E coli bacteria. As a consequence, the unit is closed to any outside or avoidable admissions.
“The trust’s other two neonatal units at the Princess Royal Bromley and Queen Mary’s Sidcup remain open as normal.
“None of the babies are clinically affected by the bacteria. Babies who appear to carry the bacteria have been isolated.
“The trust is working with the Health Protection Agency to ensure that the correct measures are being taken to prevent any further spread of the infection and we can assure our patients that the rest of the hospital is not affected.”
An investigation is under way to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak, which is believed to be rare on such a ward, the trust added.
The unit has undergone a clean, with restricted visiting imposed and hand hygiene measures stressed to parents and staff.