The Gauteng Department of Health has confirmed that 10 babies died at Tembisa Hospital’s neonatal unit late last year, due to a Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) outbreak.

CRE is difficult to treat because it has a high resistance to antibiotics and can cause deadly infections in the bloodstream, lungs and urinary tract, including pneumonia and meningitis.

“We can confirm that 17 cases of CRE bacteraemia were reported during the period between 1 November to 31 December 2019, which sadly resulted in deaths of 10 babies. It was suspected that the organism responsible for this outbreak was Klebsiella pneumoniae,” Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said in a statement on Monday.

In 2018, klebsiella pneumoniae killed 15 infants in Gauteng hospitals.

Tembisa Hospital is often faced with an ever-increasing demand for its services. With challenges such as overcrowding being a common feature of the hospital.

“The 44-bedded neonatal unit often admits close to 90 patients. Whilst the department is looking at improving the hospital infrastructure, it is doing its utmost best to serve patients with respect and dignity,” he said.

New admissions are currently being diverted to Kalafong Hospital and Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria. Additional professional nurses have also been deployed in the neo-natal ward to prevent further infections.

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