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10 Newborns in UC Irvine Medical Center Tested Positive for MRSA

Apr 16, 2017 10:08 AM EDT
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10 infants confined at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of University of California, Irvine Medical Center were infected with the same strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In just eight months, 10 infants confined at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of University of California, Irvine Medical Center were infected with a superbug that can be fatal to premature infants.

The 10 infants tested positive for the same strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) between August 2016 and March 2017. None of the infants died due to the MRSA infection. UC Irvine Medical Center is now working closely with Orange County health officials and California Department of Public Health to investigate the MRSA outbreak.

"UC Irvine health has escalated infection prevention measures to minimize the likelihood of transmission within the healthcare environment and among patients, healthcare workers and visitors such as family members," hospital officials at Irvine Medical Center said in a statement, as per ABC 7.

Hospital officials were baffled with the latest MRSA infection that occurred in March. The infection occurred even when the hospital required 220 of their staff to use antiseptic soap and ointments to pre-emptively kill potential MRSA bacteria in their skin and nose.

In mid-December last year, the hospital detected the same strain of MRSA on five infants. Later that month, two more babies were sickened in the hospital, while another one tested positive for MRSA in late February. Two additional cases were detected last month. Additionally, four hospital employees tested positive for the same strain of MRSA last January.

Despite having previous cases of MRSA, UC Irvine and the Orange County Health Department tried to quietly handle the outbreak internally.

"Our rapid response came the minute we saw the strains were the same," said Susan Huang, director of epidemiology and infection prevention at the medical center, in a report from SF Gate.

MRSA was declared by the World Health Organization as one of the 12 families of bacteria that "pose the greatest threat to human health." MRSA is a naturally occurring bacteria that lives in the skin and nose of approximately two out of 10 people.

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