Deadly bacteria claim 10 babies in one month at Tembisa Hospital

Tembisa Hospital.
Tembisa Hospital.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) have claimed 10 babies in a period of a month at Tembisa Hospital’s neonatal unit.

The Gauteng department of health said there were about 17 cases of CRE bacteria that were reported from November 1 to December 31 last year.

Health spokesperson Philani Mhlungu said it was suspected that the organism responsible for this outbreak was Klebsiella pneumoniae.

“CRE are a family of germs that are difficult to treat because they have high levels of resistance to antibiotics. Tembisa hospital like many other health facilities in the province is faced with the challenge of ever increasing demand for services. The 44-bed neonatal unit [in the large hospital in Ekurhuleni] often admits close to 90 patients. They can cause deadly infections in your bloodstream, lungs and urinary tract, including pneumonia and meningitis, Mhlungu said.

He said a stakeholder meeting which consisted of hospital services directorate, Tshwane district microbiology team and National Institute of Communicable diseases was convened to discuss challenges of overcrowding in the ward, staff shortage, infrastructure , inappropriate equipment storage and difficult in isolating infected infants.

“It was then decided that a quality improvement plan be created and implemented with immediate effect. Additional professional nurses have been deployed to assist at the neonatal unit. The national health laboratory services infection control service will provide technical support assistance to audit Gauteng department of health neonatals units,” Mhlungu said.

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