There’s no outbreak of neonatal deaths due to klebsiella at the Cornwall Regional hospital in St. James.

That’s according to answers tabled by Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton last month in response to questions asked by his opposition counterpart, Dr. Dayton Campbell.

Dr. Campbell had tabled questions asking the Health Minister if he was aware of an infection that may be affecting new-borns in any public hospital and if it had caused any deaths.

Minister Tufton in his response says seven babies had died over a two month period at two of the island’s hospitals.

Six babies died in the month of September at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, while one died at the Spanish Town hospital in St. Catherine.

The Health Minister says he was informed last month that a cluster of infections affected new-born babies at the Cornwall Regional hospital and the Spanish Town Hospital in St. Catherine.

This means more than one infection affected the babies at the same time in the two hospitals.

Although the source of the infection is unknown, Klebsiella pneumoniae was identified. It’s a naturally occurring gut organism.

In Jamaica, Klebsiella is the second most frequently isolated organism in newborns with sepsis. That’s an infection of the blood.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacqueline McKensey says three of the babies at Cornwall Regional Hospital were infected before entering the neonatal ward.

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This she says is not out of the ordinary for the period.

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She says the number of deaths did not rise above the epidemic threshold for both September and October to be considered an outbreak.

In September the epidemic threshold is 13 while in October it’s over 17. For both months the number of infections were well below the threshold.

Dr. McKensey says there’ve been no deaths since then which indicates no upward trend.

In general, she says the other hospitals across the island with neonatal wards had only one death for the period August to October.

This also includes the University Hospital of the West Indies where there was an outbreak of the infection in 2015.

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Dr. McKensey says the usual routine measures were done. She says the other babies were separated from those infected and the infection control precautions were increased.

The babies that would have been in the nursery with the ones infected were also tested. None of those babies came back positive with the organism in their blood.