A charity supporting families with premature babies is expressing concerns that the pseudomonas bacteria, which has caused the deaths of at least four babies in Northern Ireland, may affect some babies from border counties like Donegal.
Allison Molloy, chairperson of Irish Premature Babies told the Donegal Democrat: “The outbreak of the bacterial infection pseudomonas in the North of Ireland has increased concerns for families of premature babies living in border counties.
“Even though no cases have been reported in the Republic of Ireland, some of our preterm babies do get transferred to other health districts depending on bed availability and severity of case. Both Belfast and Derry hospitals take preterm babies from the Republic if necessary, especially from northern areas such as Donegal.
“Irish Premature Babies – the Republic’s only dedicated charity for premature babies - would like to take this opportunity to remind parents and families of Premature Babies here that they are available to support families who may be worried about the pseudomonas outbreak.
“All staff and visitors in any of the Neo-Natal Intensive Care units should continue to use alcohol hand gel following hand washing. It is important that strict hygiene practice continues being a priority when visiting or working in the Neonatal Units around the country,” Ms Molloy emphasised.
Pseudomonas is a bacteria that can survive in water and moist conditions. As well as causing skins infections, it can also affect other organs.
Preterm babies have increased susceptibility to infection. Some babies can carry the infection but not be affected by the bacteria themselves.
The HSE has stated that all hospitals in the Republic of Ireland “have standard systems in place to detect clusters of any infection including pseudomonas aeruginosa”.
The HSE spokesperson added: “All babies accepted in hospitals from the North through the neonatal transfer protocol are checked on arrival, as a matter of routine, for any infection.”
Any family that may be concerned and would like some additional support can visit www.irishprematurebabies.com, or contact the organisation’s Family Support Officer Many Daly on 086 345 8931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.