| 5.6°C Dublin

Video: Maternity unit in 'deep clean' after deaths

A "deep clean" of the Northern Ireland maternity unit where three babies died of an infection is due to be completed today as the hunt continues for the source of the deadly bacteria.

The babies were among seven who were infected with the pseudomonas bacteria at the Royal Maternity Hospital in Belfast. Two recovered fully, a third is still being treated and a fourth recovered but died of unrelated causes.

The parents of a further 24 babies are expected to learn tomorrow whether their babies have also been infected. The babies were swabbed for the infection last week and the results are due tomorrow.

The HSE played down the prospect of the infection reaching the Republic, and said surveillance systems were in place to pick up all bacteria, including pseudomonas.

The outbreak occurred in the neonatal room at the Royal where premature babies often vulnerable to infection are treated. All babies who were exposed to the unit have been tested for the bacteria, the unit has been closed and the babies have moved elsewhere in the hospital.

Two heavily pregnant women were forced to move to hospitals in the south as a precaution.

Outbreaks of pseudomonas bacteria are rare. It is not infectious and is usually harmless. It is usually present in plants or soil and can be carried on the skin.

Danger can arise when it gets into the bloodstream in vulnerable babies.

It is normally responsive to antibiotics.

The chief executive of the Belfast Health Trust promised a full investigation last Thursday after the third baby died as a result of the outbreak.

Sunday Independent