Baby dies of bacterial infection at New Jersey hospital, 3 others sick

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A premature baby died of a bacterial infection at a New Jersey hospital, leading to the discovery of three other children who are said to be sick.

The state Department of Health found four cases of Acinetobacter baumannii in the neonatal intensive care unit at University Hospital in Newark since October 1, after the preemie baby passed away in late September.

The infant had the bacteria and was transferred to another facility, where the child died.

Health officials say the exact cause of death is under investigation because of compounding medical conditions.

The department says it found major infection control deficiencies at the hospital, and a plan of correction has been ordered.

Two department teams have been closely monitoring the situation, ensuring that infection control protocols are followed and tracking cases of the infection.

"University Hospital takes patient safety, including infection control, very seriously," a University Hospital spokesperson said in a statement. "We have been in regular communication with the Department of Health and continue to work closely with them to address this issue as quickly as possible."

The Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria can cause pneumonia or serious blood or wound infections.

The cases are not related to the adenovirus outbreak that has infected 19 patients and killed seven children at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, Passaic County.

Dr. Mark Wade, director of the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, released the following statement:

On Thursday, October 25, it was brought to our attention that a premature infant who had been cared for at University Hospital in Newark had an Acinetobacter bacteria at the time of their death. Unfortunately, the infant had a variety of other compounding medical conditions. Acinetobacter is a hospital-acquired infection with no community transmission. Rest assured, this does not pose a risk to the Newark community. Acinetobacter, the bacteria involved at University Hospital, and adenovirus, the virus to which multiple children were exposed and died from at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, are different and not related. The virus and the bacteria spread differently, but both can have adverse outcomes on patients with weakened immune systems.

We understand that the New Jersey Department of Health has been in communication with University Hospital officials and are determining the cause of death. It is still an ongoing investigation.

We are concerned about the presence of Acinetobacter at University hospital. University Hospital officials have told us that they are working closely with the NJ Department of Health to control Acinetobacter and are employing all available methods to control any issues that may arise. The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness will continue to carefully monitor the situation.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

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