Third Melbourne hospital infected by Serratia bacteria

A spokeswoman for The Royal Women's Hospital says three babies so far have been isolated after they were found to be carrying the serratia bacteria.

This follows the death of two premature babies infected by serratia at the Monash Medical Centre.

The Centre says another 19 babies carrying the bacteria from the hospital's neo-natal intensive care unit have been isolated.

Meanwhile, six babies carrying the bacteria have been isolated at the Royal Children's Hospital after it was discovered there.

Serratia tends to colonize the respiratory and urinary tracts of adults, rather than the gastrointestinal tract.

Serratia causes about 2% of nosocomial infections of the bloodstream, lower respiratory tract, urinary tract, surgical wounds, and skin and soft tissues of adult patients. Outbreaks of S marcescens meningitis, wound infections, and arthritis have occurred in pediatric wards.

Serratia has caused endocarditis and osteomyelitis in people addicted to heroin.

Cases of arthritis resulting from Serratia infection are reported in outpatients who have received intraarticular injections.

Therapy for Serratia infections would include an antipseudomonal beta-lactam plus an aminoglycoside. Most strains are susceptible to amikacin, but reports indicate increasing resistance to gentamicin and tobramycin. Quinolones also are highly active against most strains. Definitive therapy should be based on the results of susceptibility testing because multiresistant strains are common.

It thrives in moist environments and can be spread from contaminated hands and equipment.

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