Antibiotic-resistant pathogen kills; sickens babies in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas, Monday July 30, 2012 – Almost two decades since its last deadly outbreak the pathogen acinetobacter bamannii has once again infected patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), with deadly results.

The Bahamas Public Hospitals Authority has reported that eight babies have tested positive and two of them have died as a result of infection caused by the bacteria outbreak. The other six babies are being treated.

The bacteria enters the body through open wounds, breathing tubes and catheters and is highly resistant to antibiotics.

A similar outbreak at the same hospital in August 1996 killed three infants.

The PMH has come in for stinging criticism from Health Minister, Dr Perry Gomez who has told the media that he did not think the outbreak was properly handled because the hospital delayed in notifying authorities, given that the first case was detected about three or four weeks ago, he said.

In the 1996 occurrence, eight infants acquired Acinetobacter bloodstream infection while at PMH. Three infants died and an investigation was initiated, noted the report.

A report on that outbreak from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained that acinetobacter are multi-drug-resistant bacteria that grow well in water and cause infections with unexplained, increased summer prevalence.

It said Acinetobacter may cause infection and death among infants during periods of polyclonal airborne dissemination; breaks in aseptic technique during intravenous medication administration may facilitate transmission from the environment to the patient, the report said.

Environmental conditions that increase air conditioner condensation may increase the risk of infection, the report noted.  Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)