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The Ottawa Hospital is seeing an increase in cases of MRSA in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

March 30, 2015  The Ottawa Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the General Campus is seeing an increase in the presence of a bacteria called Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. It is important to note that none of the 10 affected babies in the unit is unwell as a result of the bacteria.

MRSA is a common bacteria found in the nose, on the skin or in the lower intestine and rarely causes any problems. In certain situations, like in premature infants who are still developing their immune system, MRSA can lead to an infection of the blood, lungs or skin and can be treated with antibiotics.

MRSA can be passed on to other people through touch.  It can survive on regular surfaces and on hands for a short period of time. However, with proper use of alcohol hand gels and good hand washing, it is easy to kill.

The Ottawa Hospital NICU and Infection Prevention and Control teams have put several strategies in place to prevent the spread of this bacteria on the unit:

  • Hand hygiene has been reinforced
  • Infants who have tested positive for the bacteria are cared for under contact precautions, which means that staff caring for them will wear gloves and a gown (when appropriate).

The Ottawa Hospital is committed to the highest standards of patient safety. We are working hard to ensure there is no further spread of the bacteria and we are monitoring the situation closely.

We know that having a baby in the NICU is stressful and difficult and we appreciate parents’ help in preventing the spread of infections. They can help by using the alcohol hand gel or hand washing before and after touching their baby.

We ask patients and their families for their understanding and collaboration during this challenging time.

For further information, view the MRSA Patient Information Sheet.

Media Contact:
Hazel Harding, Communications Advisor
The Ottawa Hospital