UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh reports 12 cases of MRSA bacteria
Six newborn babies and six employees at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have tested positive for the contagious bacterial infection MRSA, hospital officials said Monday.
“The health and safety of our patients, staff and visitors is our highest priority,” UPMC spokeswoman Andrea Kunicky said in a statement. “We’re doing everything we can to care for them. UPMC always follows CDC guidelines, and isolation protocols and infection control procedures are in place.”
MRSA — short for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus — is caused by a type of staph bacteria that’s resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. It can be spread by skin-to-skin contact or direct contact with infected surfaces.
MRSA can cause serious bloodstream infections in people with an already weakened immune system or cause a skin infection in otherwise healthy people.
MRSA plagues hospitals and many individuals — including patients, health care workers, and the general public — who carry the organism and suffer no untoward effects, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease physician.
“Outbreaks in neonatal units are particularly concerning because of the fragile nature of the patients involved,” Adalja said. “It is reassuring that only one of the six patients identified is symptomatic and that UPMC is taking aggressive proactive measures.”
All of the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients were tested for MRSA. Of the six patients who tested positive, “one of those patients is potentially symptomatic,” Kunicky said.
Several staff also came forward with potential symptoms, and six have tested positive so far, officials said. They all are undergoing treatment.
“It is important to note that a portion of the population carry MRSA without ever being symptomatic,” Kunicky said. “We have several tests pending and will provide updates as more information becomes available.”
UPMC has notified the Allegheny County Health Department of the recently confirmed cases.
Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .