Bug closes hospital baby unit

A NEONATAL unit is closed to newborns today at Ipswich Hospital after a baby contracted a virus in the ward - forcing expectant mums to be sent more than 100 miles to give birth.

A NEONATAL unit is closed to newborns today at Ipswich Hospital after a baby contracted a virus in the ward - forcing expectant mums to be sent more than 100 miles to give birth.

One of the 19 babies on the Special Care Baby Unit, for babies who need extra care, was discovered yesterday to be infected with the rotavirus, which causes sicknesses and diarrhoea and is currently spreading throughout children in Suffolk.

The closure of the unit means pregnant women who are expected to give birth prematurely are being sent to other hospitals - and the nearest is in Portsmouth.

One woman is expected to travel to the city's hospital today to give birth because all the special baby care units closer to Ipswich are full.


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Andrew Reed, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, said: “We have identified this virus very quickly. We believe that this has been brought in through the community, though not necessarily by the parents.

“The important thing for us is to take precautions for the safety of the baby who has the virus and the babies who don't have the virus.

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“The baby has designated nursing so we can reduce the risk of cross examination and we are giving the rest of the unit a deep clean.”

The parents of all the 19 babies on the unit have been informed and the hospital is asking that no siblings or adults that are unwell visit the unit until the virus has been eliminated.

It is not thought that the baby's condition is life-threatening although it is serious and the hospital is monitoring the situation closely.

Rotavirus is similar to norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting virus, which is thought to be the bug which resulted in the closure of one of Ipswich Hospital's wards nearly two weeks ago.

Shotley ward was closed to new admissions after nine patients and a member of staff became ill. However the ward has now reopened.

Have your children been affected by rotavirus? Have you had to travel a long way for treatment because nearby units were closed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Rotavirus

A rotavirus is an extremely contagious virus that infects the stomach and intestine

It is spread by infected people who do not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet

Rotavirus infections are extremely common in children and it is estimated that every child will have at least one rotavirus infection before the age of five

The first infection tends to be the most severe because afterwards the body builds up immunity to the virus, which is why rotavirus infections are rare in adults

Deaths from rotavirus infections are extremely rare in the UK with one study estimating that there are only three to four deaths from the rotavirus every year in England and Wales

However in parts of the developing world rotaviruses are one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of five, and half a million children worldwide die as a result of the virus every year

SOURCE: NHS Health Encyclopaedia

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