Deadly bug outbreak under control
Outbreaks of deadly bacteria which claimed the lives of four babies in Northern Ireland hospitals are now officially under control, the region's health minister has said.
Confirming there had been no new cases of pseudomonas in infants since late last month, Edwin Poots said a specialist team co-ordinating the response to the emergency was holding its final briefing on Wednesday.
During a hearing with the Stormont Health Committee, it also emerged that, before the recent deaths, 26 people with the infection had died in Northern Ireland in the last four years, with 80 to 95 individuals infected annually.
But senior health officials stressed that most of those people were elderly, had underlying health conditions and had not necessarily contracted the bug in hospital. In that period only one child under the age of one with pseudomonas died.
The region's chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said he understood there had never been an actual outbreak of the bacteria in a Northern Ireland hospital prior to the recent crisis.
Separate outbreaks claimed the lives of one newborn at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry in December and three at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital in Belfast last month - prompting Mr Poots to order an independent investigation.
Updating elected members of his scrutiny committee on the situation, Mr Poots said there had been no new infections since January 24 and no incidences of the bacteria being found on infants' skin since January 27.
He said, as a consequence, the Regional Health Response Group set up to tackle the outbreaks would wind up its work.
"As the outbreak is now under control, this group is holding its last teleconference this afternoon," said Mr Poots.
"PHA (Public Health Agency) is discontinuing the daily updates on its website, PHA and the department will continue to monitor the situation and PHA will complete an epidemiological investigation which they are leading."