Health officials in Jamaica are struggling to cope with a hospital infection which has killed 18 babies in three months, the health ministry announced.
After the parent of one child who fell victim to the disease spoke to the local media last week, the government had to no choice but to issue a public statement detailing the deaths of the infants.
Dr. Alison Nicholson, consultant medical microbiologist at University Hospital of the West Indies, one of the hospitals affected, says the public shouldn’t worry:
“There is a growing panic in the public because of the way this has come out. But we are not panicking in the hospital. This is something we have to deal with from time to time, and we are doing everything we can to stop the outbreak. We have closed the nursery and considered closing down our neonatal unit, but the babies need neonatal support. If it is withdrawn they will die, so we have to keep the unit open.”
The health minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, only learned of the situation last Friday. The public was informed of the outbreak yesterday when Ferguson made a statement, saying a team of specialists had been appointed to investigate the outbreaks, as well as trying to stop the spread of the infections.
Out of 42 confirmed cases of the infection, 18 babies, mostly premature, have died; the outbreaks are ongoing at the University Hospital of the West Indies and Cornwall regional hospital.