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15 Babies Poisoned

Six hospitals across England have drip fed what appears to have been a contaminated batch of baby food directly into the bloodstreams of 15 babies. Many of the babies were premature.

One of the babies has died and 14 babies with septicaemia are responding to antibiotics.

What happened?

The blood poisoning is known to have been caused by a bacterium called Bacillus cereus, which can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

162 individual units of the food were sent to over 20 hospitals. The product has a shelf life of one week. The food expired on Monday and should not have been used throughout the week – a recall of the contaminated product has been issued.

The affected hospitals include:

  • Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, London (4 reported cases)
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, London (3 reported cases)
  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (3 reported cases)
  • Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge University Hospitals (2 reported cases)
  • Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (2 reported cases)
  • The Whittington Hospital London (1 reported case)

Public Health England (PHE) first became aware of the infections on Saturday, when reports emerged of four instances of blood poisoning at the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust.

Following further reports of infections, an investigation was carried out by PHE. The bacterium was identified, and a warning was issued to all neonatal units on Tuesday.

Adam Burgess, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MRHA) manager of the Defective Medicines Reporting Centre, commented:

“We have sent inspectors to the manufacturer’s facility to carry
out a detailed and rigorous inspection and we have ensured
that the potentially affected medicine is recalled.”

PHE and MHRA are not expecting any further cases.

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