Verona hospital, the three newborns infected by the killer bacterium are fine

The case of newborns infected and, in some cases, fatally affected by Citrobacter koseri has again alarmed theBorgo Trento hospital in Verona. Last Friday, May 3, 2024, three newborns tested positive for the bacterium, triggering an alert in the hospital.

The Integrated University Hospital (Aoui) reported in a statement that the affected newborns “are doing well” and that the event brought the anomaly to light after four years of active monitoring. Between 2018 and 2020, the C. koseri bacterium had affected around a hundred newborns at the Borgo Trento hospital, causing four deaths and several health complications. The origin of the infection had been identified in the taps of the neonatal intensive care unit.

The three newborns are fine: further tests are underway

The results of the investigations on these three newborns have eased the alarm, as reported by the Aoui, with one of the newborns already discharged and in good condition, another negative test result and only one still positive, but asymptomatic. It was not possible to confirm whether the bacterium identified belongs to the same strain as four years ago, as further genomic analyzes require longer times. The hospital also stressed that the water distributed in the facility is safe thanks to regular checks, and that all water access points for patients are equipped with antibacterial filters.

The anomalous detection of Citrobacter koseri immediately triggered rigorous testing isolation protocols and protection in neonatal intensive care. Extraordinary checks were therefore launched and control groups activated to address the situation. As a precautionary measure, hospitalizations of pregnant women below the 33rd week of gestation have been suspended, as premature newborns often require hospitalization in the neonatal intensive care unit. The obstetric-gynecological emergency room remains active for emergencies during pregnancy at any gestational stage and for pregnancies beyond the 34th week.

Citrobackter koseri remains a risk to newborns

According to Luca Brizzi, director of Uoc Sanitation Functions and Risk Prevention, Citrobacter koseri is a common microorganism, but it can pose a significant risk to premature or weak newborns. The rapid identification of the first anomalous case allowed the activation of extraordinary protocols and the formation of a dedicated working group.

Francesca Frezza, mother of Nina, one of the victims of the previous Citrobacter koseri outbreak, expressed concern and regret for what happened five years ago, underlining the seriousness of the situation and the need for timely action. Frezza presented complaints and protested in front of the Borgo Trento hospital, and is now awaiting a legal hearing to evaluate further actions following the request for dismissal made by the Prosecutor's Office.

Al Fatto Quotidiano declared: “If they had done what they did today five years ago, closing the department, we would not have had four dead newborns, including my daughter Nina, and 6 brain-damaged babies. The current situation demonstrates the seriousness and underestimation of the situation at the time, even if the Prosecutor's Office requested the dismissal of two of the three phases of the contamination examined by an expert, recognizing hypotheses of criminal responsibility only in the third phase, referring to only two newborns . On May 31st there will be a hearing before the investigating judge of Verona, where I presented opposition to the public prosecutor's request for dismissal”.