Clinic does not get a grip on germs

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Newborns in Jena infected with bacteria

Six preterm babies are currently being treated in the children's intensive care unit of the “Borromean Mother's House” in Trier, where a colonization with the germ “Serratia marcescens” has been demonstrated. The germ, which is usually harmless for adults, can become a serious danger for newborns and premature babies - which is why the ward has now been closed as a precaution for new admissions.

Germs detected during routine examinations Dangerous pathogens were detected during routine examinations in six newborns at the “Borromean Mother's Clinic” in Trier. According to the clinic, this is specifically "Serratia marcescens", a "germ that can be found anywhere in the environment - and can be found above all in the intestinal tract of humans and animals", as Dr. Harald Michels, head of the Trier Health Department explains. While this is usually harmless for healthy adults, it can "lead to infections that can be difficult in patients with serious underlying diseases or weakened infection control," says Dr. Harald Michels continues.

Affected children are cared for in isolation However, there is a risk for other small patients, according to the chief doctor of pediatric and adolescent medicine at the clinic, Dr. Wolfgang Thomas, not, because all affected children would be put together in the intensive care unit and cared for in isolation. "For the care of premature babies who can no longer be transferred to another perinatal center without risk before birth, the clinic is setting up a completely separate emergency room in terms of space and personnel. This also applies to newborns and infants with unpredictable medical problems. For this purpose, employees who are on vacation or work part-time are asked for additional support, ”adds the medical director Dr. Oliver Kunitz in a message from the clinic.

The spread of the germ could not be stopped. According to the clinic, it has not yet been finally clarified how the germs have spread in the clinic recovered. In the boy concerned, the germ had been detected by a routine examination three days after his birth, after which he was immediately isolated and all hygiene regulations in the ward tightened. But this also did not stop the germ, instead it spread further and infected five more newborns: "The germ is characterized by a high survivability outside of living things," explains chief physician Dr. Wolfgang Thomas, therefore "strict isolation and tightened hygiene measures, which were carried out in consultation with the advice center for hygiene and the health office Trier, could only temporarily prevent a spread of the germ."

Intensive care unit closed as a precaution for new admissions According to Dr. Harald Michels could not be blamed for this, because they would have complied with the hygiene regulations as well as possible - even if it was not always possible to strictly observe hygiene in an intensive care unit. In order to prevent any risk of further incorrect settlements, the clinic management, in consultation with the Trier Health Office and the German Hygiene Advisory Center in Freiburg, decided to close the intensive care unit and a neighboring premature and newborn ward as a precautionary measure for new admissions. (No)

Image: Sebastian Karkus /

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