Parents come forward over superbug fears

An appeal for parents to come forward if their premature baby may have been affected by a new superbug had last night resulted in all but seven making contact with Norfolk's flagship hospital.

An appeal for parents to come forward if their premature baby might have been affected by a new superbug had last night resulted in all but seven making contact with Norfolk's flagship hospital.

Infection control experts at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital put out the alert to 66 families as they continued to investigate an outbreak of non-MRSA panton-valentine leukocidin (PVL) positive S aureus following a number of cases in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The bug is believed to have claimed the life of 2lb 7oz Alfie Randall, who was born 13 weeks early and died after seven days.

Five other babies who were initially affected are now "doing well and responding to treatment" but remain at the unit because they are premature.

As reported yesterday, a seventh baby and one of the parents of one of the other children have been identified as carrying the bug, but new developments emerged last night.

Spokesman Andrew Stronach said the hospital set up a helpline last week for parents whose babies were in the unit between November 22 and December 18.

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Some of those who had got in touch had chosen to have their babies screened for "peace of mind".

"Letters were couriered to all the families last week to ask whether they wanted their babies swabbed," he said.

"A lot of them have declined and are not going to take up that offer because they feel they are not at risk, but some have rung up and come in.

"Quite a lot of the families are from outside Norfolk and all over the eastern region.

"We have been trying to ring the remaining seven sets of parents, but obviously at this time of year people might be away.

"We will continue with our efforts to make contact with them.

"There's no real cause for concern, it's just offering them the peace of mind and to establish that nobody else is carrying this organism.

"If their baby has been fit and well then there is no need to come back to hospital."

He added that test results took about three days and the hospital would only regain contact with parents if they proved positive.

The 28-cot neonatal unit remains closed to babies from outside the area.