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Three preemie deaths at Pennsylvania hospital linked to bacteria-contaminated breast milk equipment

Three premature babies died and five more were sickened from breast milk that was contaminated with bacteria from hospital equipment at a Pennsylvania medical center.

Hospital officials confirmed on Friday, after investigating with state health officials, that the source of a pseudomonas bacteria outbreak in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Geysinger Medical Center in Danville was equipment used to measure donor breast milk.

The bacteria was believed to have infected eight premature infants, including three who died, according to a statement from the hospital sent to DailyMail.com

Hospital officials confirmed on Friday, after investigating with state health officials, that the source of a pseudomonas bacteria outbreak in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Geysinger Medical Center in Danville (pictured)  was equipment used to measure breast milk

Three premature babies died and five more were sickened from breast milk that was contaminated with pseudomonas bacteria (pictured) that was discovered in breast milk equipment at the Geysinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Three premature babies died and five more were sickened from breast milk that was contaminated with pseudomonas bacteria (pictured) that was discovered in breast milk equipment at the Geysinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda (pictured) hold their son, Abel David Cepeda, who was born prematurely at the medical center on September 24 and died six days later on the same day the hospital stopped using the contaminated breast milk equipment

Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda (pictured) hold their son, Abel David Cepeda, who was born prematurely at the medical center on September 24 and died six days later on the same day the hospital stopped using the contaminated breast milk equipment

DNA testing was used to confirm the source and the hospital switched over to using ‘single-use equipment to measure and administer donor breast milk’ as of September 30, the statement reads.  

‘We have had no new cases of infants becoming ill from pseudomonas in the NICU since making this change’, wrote hospital officials, who also apologized to the parents of the preemies.

One of the babies that died has a twin who is still recovering from ingesting the bacteria, says an attorney who has filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents whose baby also died from the contamination.

Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda, a couple from Hazle Township lost their son, Abel David Cepeda, who was born prematurely at the medical center on September 24 and died six days later on the same day the hospital stopped using the contaminated breast milk equipment.

Abel’s mom deferred comment to her attorney when contacted by DailyMail.com. 

‘This is really shocking’, the Philadelphia lawyer, Matt Casey said about the bacterial outbreak and the hospital’s handling of the contamination, which is challenged in the lawsuit.

‘They’re a major health system, one of the largest in the northeast and this particular hospital in Danville has a neonatal intensive care unit,’ Casey said. ‘They take care of premature babies. This is what they do for a living’.

The hospital had been forced to send expectant mothers to other facilities last month while officials investigated the source. Four of the babies who were sickened had already recovered at the time. 

The bacteria are common and often harmless but can cause disease in ‘very fragile patients,’ Dr Frank Maffei, the hospital’s chair of pediatrics, said at a news conference on October 7.

'This is really shocking', Philadelphia attorney Matt Casey said about the bacterial outbreak and the hospital's handling of the contamination, which is challenged in a lawsuit he filed on behalf of the parents of one of the deceased preemies

‘This is really shocking’, Philadelphia attorney Matt Casey said about the bacterial outbreak and the hospital’s handling of the contamination, which is challenged in a lawsuit he filed on behalf of the parents of one of the deceased preemies

The deaths, he said, ‘may have been a result of the infection complicating an already vulnerable state.’ 

As a precaution, the hospital transferred babies born at less than 32 weeks’ gestation to other hospitals and diverted other expected premature deliveries to other medical centers. Full-term pregnancies amount to 40 weeks of gestation. 

Doctors at the press conference said they first became aware of an unusual infection in early August.

‘They never told anybody. They never told my clients,’ said Casey, who charged that if state officials had not intervened, as required by law, ‘nobody would have ever known about this’.

The neonatal intensive care unit is inside a children’s hospital that is part of a larger campus. Officials had expected that it could take weeks to determine how the infections occurred, and it wasn’t known if the pathogen was brought in from outside the children’s hospital.

Cultures of the water supply and surfaces inside the neonatal intensive care unit at the Geysinger Medical Center in Danville, where all the infections occurred, had tested negative for seudo

Cultures of the water supply and surfaces inside the neonatal intensive care unit at the Geysinger Medical Center in Danville, where all the infections occurred, tested negative for Pseudomonas prior to the discovery of the source of the contamination 

Cultures of the water supply and surfaces inside the neonatal intensive care unit, where all the infections occurred, had tested negative for pseudomonas, officials said.

Pseudomonas is a very common germ in the environment, found in water, dirt and plants.

It also naturally and harmlessly lives on some people’s armpit or genital skin.

The average person isn’t very vulnerable to infection by Pseudomonas, but people on ventilators or with open burn wounds are susceptible.

And it can become quickly lethal to them.

Hospitals are one of the more common settings for outbreaks of the infection, which can spread if employees’ hands and equipment are not properly cleaned. 

Worryingly, pseuomonas is one of several infections often associated with hospitals that is becoming increasingly hard to treat because it’s developing antibiotic resistance.

Geysinger Medical Center in Danville (pictured) had increased chlorination of water, bolstered water filtering, performed extra cleaning and changed some of its processes in response to the pseudomonas outbreak.

Geysinger Medical Center in Danville (pictured) had increased chlorination of water, bolstered water filtering, performed extra cleaning and changed some of its processes in response to the pseudomonas outbreak.

The hospital had increased chlorination of water, bolstered water filtering, performed extra cleaning and changed some of its processes in response to the pseudomonas outbreak. 

Seven of the eight babies were born at less than 26 weeks of gestation, and the eighth was born at less than 27 weeks’, according to the hospital.

Casey says the family of one of the other deceased preemies, the one who is survived by the twin, may also be filing a legal action. 

His current clients, meanwhile, noted their baby would have been 1 month old on October 24 in a post on Facebook.

‘God has truly been our strength and healer in these difficult time[s] I thank God more than anything and my Husband for being strong and also My Parents who have been our rock and has been with us everyday checking up on us we truly appreciate everything and everybody who has written to us and has given us words of encouragement we are really thankful,’ the child’s mother wrote in the post.

‘Abel would have been a month old today!’ she said. ‘But we give God the Glory! Always!’

Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda are pictured from a Facebook post where the mom noted their baby would have been 1 month old on October 24. 'Abel would have been a month old today!' she wrote. 'But we give God the Glory! Always!'

Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda are pictured from a Facebook post where the mom noted their baby would have been 1 month old on October 24. ‘Abel would have been a month old today!’ she wrote. ‘But we give God the Glory! Always!’

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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