Third baby in feed probe dies

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A third baby given suspected contaminated hospital feed has died, according to Public Health England.

Twenty-three babies have been treated for blood poisoning in connection with the outbreak.

All the infected babies were being fed a liquid mixture of nutrients directly into their bloodstream.

The third baby to die was being cared for at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

Start Quote

We are reassured that this was a very rare occurrence as we have not seen this particular strain of bacteria in any product made since that day and there has been no further illness”

End Quote Mike Catchpole Public Health England

"Our thoughts are with the family and we are supporting them during this very difficult and emotional time," said a spokesman.

"A consultant neonatologist has spoken to all of the families on the unit.

"The babies on the unit have been closely monitored for any signs of infection since we withdrew the contaminated feed. We are confident that no other newborns have contracted Bacillus cereus.

"The two other babies who were ill are stable and doing well."

Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are investigating the incident, which has been linked to bacteria in a nutritional supplement given to premature babies.

Nine-day-old Yousef Al-Kharboush died at St Thomas' Hospital on 1 June.

A second baby at the hospital later died, but this was not thought to be a direct result of the bacterial outbreak.

All three deaths have been reported to the coroner.

'Rare occurrence'

PHE said the babies developed blood poisoning from the Bacillus cereus bacterium, which has been linked to an intravenous fluid supplied by ITH Pharma.

Prof Mike Catchpole of PHE said the main findings pointed towards there being "a single incident that occurred on one day and was associated with the illness seen in the babies".

He added: "We are reassured that this was a very rare occurrence as we have not seen this particular strain of bacteria in any product made since that day and there has been no further illness."

Gerald Heddell of the MHRA said: "From our investigation to date, we continue to believe this was an isolated incident and that appropriate immediate action has been taken at ITH Pharma's facility to avoid a recurrence.

"Therefore we are allowing this critical product to be supplied to patients while our investigation continues."

The first case was reported early in June.

11 hospitals

Since then, there have been confirmed cases at nine hospitals in England:

  • Addenbrooke's, Cambridge University Hospitals (three)
  • Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, London (four)
  • Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London (three)
  • The Whittington Hospital (one confirmed, one possible)
  • Brighton & Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust (three)
  • Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (two)
  • Peterborough City Hospital (one)
  • Southend University Hospital (one confirmed, one possible)
  • Stoke Mandeville Hospital (one confirmed).

There are two possible cases at:

  • Basildon University Hospital
  • Harley Street Clinic.

There have been no new infections since 2 June.

The Bacillus cereus bacterium The Bacillus cereus bacterium is present on most surfaces and can contaminate food
Bacterial toxins

The Bacillus cereus bacterium produces toxins that cause two types of illness.

The most common form causes nausea and vomiting after eating contaminated food.

Less common is an illness which causes fever and diarrhoea.

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