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Update: MRSA in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

February 2, 2016 – MRSA Update: The outbreak of hospital-acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in The Ottawa Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive care Unit was declared over, Jan. 21. Three consecutive tests, conducted once per week, have shown no new cases.

The hospital would like to thank all staff for their effort to eliminate the spread of the bacterium.  We would also like to thank patient’s families for their patience and their effort to help end the outbreak.

January 7, 2016 Ottawa – Focused efforts continue to end the spread of a bacterium called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,.  The hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control team and NICU staff are working to eliminate possible sources of the bacterium and prevent further spread. Already vigilant housekeeping and hand hygiene measures are being reinforced.

As an extreme measure, all staff who have come into contact with our NICU patients were  screened to check if they may also harbour MRSA, and if so they were treated. This measure is being undertaken to ensure that we have addressed all possible factors in this outbreak and can minimize the risk of transmission as much as possible.

Seven babies currently in the NICU have tested positive for MRSA, including one with infection. There have been no new transmissions over the last week.

The Ottawa Hospital remains committed to providing safe, high quality care. All necessary measures will be taken to resolve this issue.

November 18, 2015 Ottawa – The Ottawa Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the General Campus is seeing an increase in the presence of a bacterium called Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. It is important to note that none of the four affected babies in the unit is unwell as a result of the bacteria.

MRSA is a common species of bacteria found in the nose, on the skin and in the lower intestines and rarely causes any problems. Under certain circumstances, for example in premature infants whose immune systems are still developing, MRSA can lead to blood, lung or skin infection which  can be treated with antibiotics.

MRSA can be passed on to other people through touch.  It can survive on hands and on normal surfaces short periods 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 implemented multiple strategies to prevent the spread of MRSA on the unit:

  • Staff, family and visitor hand hygiene protocols have been reinforced
  • Infants who have tested positive for MRSA are being cared for under contact precautions, which means that staff caring for them will wear gloves and gowns (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 bacterium, and we are monitoring the situation closely on an ongoing basis.

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 alcohol hand gel or washing their hands with antiseptic soap and water before and after touching their baby.

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

For further information, view the MRSA Patient Information Sheet.