9 Babies Exposed To Danger In Possible Outbreak Of Klebsiella Infection In KZN


The Klebsiella bacteria rated as relatively deadly, which recently infected nine babies in KwaZulu-Natal has persisted. According to the provincial health department, the Klebsiella infection (superbug) which is resistant to several types of antibiotics has become common in South African hospitals.

The outbreak of the superbug in Durban’s Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital where several babies had been infected over a period of 10 days. was pointed out by the DA in KwaZulu-Natal.

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DA health spokesman Imran Keeka suggested that a quarantine be effected at the Mahatma Gandhi neonatal unit while healthy babies should be transferred because of the outbreak.

However, the health department in the area described the claims by the DA as “alarmist,” an exaggerated claim which could cause unnecessary social unrest but confirmed that some babies had been infected at the hospital last month. The department said;

“Surveillance over past years has revealed that (Klebsiella) has become resident in many (health) facilities throughout the world, including in South Africa.”

Throwing more light on health case, the head of the provincial health department Sifiso Mtshali said the Klebsiella infection was common in neonatal units in the hospitals adding that the infection was identified in Mahatma Gandhi’s neonatal intensive care unit last month.

Nevertheless, Mtshali refused to classify the Klebsiella infections at Mahatma Gandhi as an outbreak. He confirmed that nine babies had been infected and one of them had died, though not directly as a result of the Klebsiella infection.

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Speaking yesterday, he shed more light on this. Hear him:

“There’s no outbreak. Every ICU, at public and private hospitals, has this organism. Nine kids were detected to have it . all are doing well, except for one who passed away, not because of klebsiella but because the child was very ill when admitted. The baby would have (died) even without the infection.”

He also added that surveillance has been increased in the neonatal ICU ward which had been “operating as normal” since April 24, as this will help in detecting and treating new cases of the Klebsiella infection with immediate effect.