Two babies have already died from the E.Coli bug at Singleton Hospital
8:51am UK, Saturday November 26, 2011
A third baby at a hospital where two babies died in an E.coli outbreak is also suspected of having contracted the deadly infection.
The maternity unit at Singleton Hospital, in Swansea, South Wales, continues to be restricted to full-term babies following the deaths.
Hopes that it could reopen in full to all pregnancies on Friday have now been put on hold.
The latest case is a baby who is carrying the bacteria without any signs of infection, health chiefs confirmed
"A third case of ESBL E.coli cross infection is unfortunately suspected at the maternity/neonatal unit at Singleton Hospital," a spokeswoman said.
"The baby has been a patient in the neonatal unit at the hospital within the past month. Further tests are now under way to confirm the cross infection."
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (ABM) University Health Board, which runs the hospital, announced that two babies had died from an ESBL E.coli infection, on November 22.
A spokeswoman from the Singleton Hospital
Despite stringent hygiene controls these cross infection incidents have occurred, which we very much regret.
Hope Erin Evans, described as "very premature" by hospital officials, died of the ESBL E.coli infection after being born at the unit.
The second case involved a baby whose mother is suspected of contracting the infection at the hospital.
Health chiefs have stressed that ESBL E.coli is not the same as E.coli O157 which causes food poisoning.
In most people, ESBL E.coli does not cause harm but in vulnerable individuals, such as premature babies and the elderly, it can cause serious infections.
An investigation into how the bug was transmitted is continuing.
It is looking at a total of five ESBL E.coli infections, three among adults. Of the five cases, three were contracted outside the hospital.
An independent investigation, reviewing the hospital's response to the outbreak, is to be carried out by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales.
Extra precautions have been put in place at the hospital's maternity unit and checks of equipment and the environment in the maternity and neonatal unit have all been negative for the bug.
"We are also taking additional precautions, including restricting visitors to the maternity unit, and we are continuing to ask visitors to wash their hands and use hand hygiene gel," a health board spokeswoman said.
"Despite stringent hygiene controls these cross infection incidents have occurred, which we very much regret.