Northern Ireland

RVH intensive care patients screened after infection outbreak

Staff at Northern Ireland's biggest hospital are continuing to screen intensive care patients after a serious infection outbreak.

The trust has said there have been no new cases of a strain of the MRAB bug in the past 10 days.

It is understood four patients in the Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) unit have been treated for the strain, known as Acinetobacter baumannii.

Their families have been informed and some patients remain in isolation.

Belfast Health Trust's director of nursing, Brenda Creaney, told the BBC's Nolan Show it was a "serious infection" but control measures were in place.

The main unit of the intensive care unit was closed at the weekend to facilitate a deep clean of the area.

A spokesperson for the trust said while the infection itself was serious, it is not unusual for any hospital to have to treat it.

'Isolated'

The germs live in soil, water and the general environment. Many healthy people carry it on their skin.

However, certain strains of the bug, particularly Acinetobacter baumannii, can cause infections in cancer and intensive care patients.

Ms Creaney, who leads Belfast Health Trust's infection control policy, confirmed the RVH outbreak was discovered three weeks ago.

"This is an infection which is present within the environment and certainly people who are well would be fine with this infection, but obviously in an intensive care unit the patients are very vulnerable, which is why we've been taking the very stringent steps we have," she said.

She told the programme the four infected patients had been isolated within the unit.

'Deep clean'

Other patients are being regularly tested for the bug, but to date there have been no further cases, according to Ms Creaney.

In a statement, Belfast Health Trust said: "An outbreak has been declared and the unit is currently undergoing an intensive deep clean process and all infection control procedures are being regularly monitored."

The trust described the bug as "an unusual multi-resistant micro-organism".

The statement added: "The trust would like to assure the public that robust infection prevention and control measures are in place and we are working closely with the Public Health Agency and all other trusts to control the spread of this organism."

It has asked visitors to intensive care to help prevent the spread of infection by washing their hands when entering and leaving the unit.

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