The UK’s Belfast Trust has announced the death of a third baby at the Royal Maternity Hospital after an outbreak of a bacterial infection known as Pseudomonas.
The trust said the deaths may be linked to the bacteria, which cause chest, blood and urine infections.
There are currently 25 babies in the unit, which cares for ill or premature babies. All the babies in the unit are being tested for the infection and those found to be clear of it will be treated in a different part of the hospital.
Belfast Health Trust said admission to the neonatal unit at the Royal Hospital is being restricted after the outbreak of Pseudomonas. The neo-natal unit consultant Clifford Mayes told BBC News that efforts were underway to identify the source of the Pseudomonas infection.
"Because it exists in water or where things are moist, what we have to do is investigate the unit itself in an effort to try and identify a source," Mayes said. "The bacteria can survive in moist conditions. Patients can carry it on their skin and not be affected, or they can develop problems with chest infections or bloodstream infections. The patients in the unit are often extremely premature, very small babies and therefore they are very vulnerable."
Northern Ireland’s health minister Edwin Poots said locating the source of the infection was now a priority. "I have asked the trust to work with the Public Health Agency to ensure all necessary steps are swiftly taken to identify the source of the infection so that we contain it,"the BBC quotes Poots as saying.
Provisions are also being taken to move babies currently being treated at the Royal Maternity hospital to other neo-natal units in Northern Ireland, the hospital officials said.