Five babies in the neonatal intensive care unit were transferred to other hospitals due to an outbreak of bacterium pseudomonas. This infection is most often hospital-acquired and targets patients with weakened immune systems. However, healthy patients can develop mild cases of pseudomonas, especially after swimming in chlorinated pools or hot tubs. Skin rashes and ear infections are more commonly pronounced in children. Eye infections are also a possibility with individuals that use extended-wear contact lenses (CDC).
Hospital patients on ventilators or with open wounds are at a higher risk for developing serious, life-threatening infections. The infection is spread through direct contact with contaminated equipment. If it is a case of multidrug-resistant pseudomonas, the results can be deadly. According to the CDC, there are an estimated 51,000 pseudomonas cases reported annually in the U.S., with 6,000 of them being multidrug-resistant and around 400 deaths attributed to these infections.
Hospital-acquired pseudomonas infections are extremely hard to treat due to increasing antibiotic resistance. Physicians must obtain a sputum and respiratory secretions sample for testing. This allows the laboratory to detect and identify the bacteria and best antibiotic for treatment.
Unfortunately, this is not the hospital’s first time dealing with this infection. The NICU was closed in August and testing found the water supply system feeding the unit as the source. The NICU reopened on October 4 after the water supply system was treated and further testing rendered no trace of bacteria.
Executive vice president and chief operating officer, Sherry B. Perkins said, “Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our patients, as well as supporting the needs of our families.” Perkins followed up by saying, “This is a complex epidemiological case, but our dedicated group of public health experts are working closely to determine the cause of this latest bacterium presence. We have concerns over the rediscovered presence within the NICU setting, but we will be relentless in researching and eliminating the bacterium however possible.”
Prince George’s Hospital is currently working with the Prince George’s County Health Department, University of Maryland School of Medicine, CDC, and Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to solve the issue. There are plans to replace the hospital with a $543 million regional medical center in Largo.