Bacterium Found in 4 Dead Premature Babies at Neonatal Center
A hardy bacterium not usually associated with infant death has been found in four premature infants who died during the past few days in a suburban New York City medical center. A total of seven babies had the germ, officials say.
The New York Times is reporting that officials at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., are trying to find the source of the germ, acinetobacter, a resilient bacterium found in soil, water, the home and in hospitals among older patients. The outbreak occurred over the past few days at the medical center's neonatal intensive care unit, the newspaper reports. All seven babies infected were premature, so their resistance to infection was lower than an infant with normal birth weight.
The three surviving infants were being treated with antibiotics, hospital officials told the Times. Dr. Michael Gewitz, the center's director of pediatrics, told the newspaper that because the infants were already in such fragile condition, it was not possible to say definitely that acinetobacter was the cause of death. "It's impossible to say that this was a cause or the cause" of the deaths, the Times quotes him as saying.
Hospital officials said that they believed the infection had not spread beyond the seven babies, and no other patient, visitor or staff member was in jeopardy.
Dr. Gewitz told the Times officials suspect that one of the infants who was transported to the Medical center from another facility had the bacteria, and that it was transmitted within the medical center. Just how that happened was still under investigation, the newspaper said.
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