The New Jersey Department of Health is investigating four Acinetobacter baumannii cases in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of University Hospital in Newark.


The Department first became aware of this bacterial infection on Oct. 1 and two Department teams have been closely monitoring the situation. Those department teams, which have been at the facility last week and this week, have been ensuring that infection control protocols are followed and are tracking cases of the infection. The Department’s inspection revealed major infection control deficiencies.

A premature baby who had been cared for at University Hospital and had the bacteria, was transferred to another facility and passed away toward the end of September, prior to the Department’s notification of problems in the NICU. Due to the other compounding medical conditions, the exact cause of death is still being investigated.

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The Department has ordered a Directed Plan of Correction that requires University Hospital to employ a full-time Certified Infection Control Practitioner consultant, who will report to the Department on immediate actions taken in the coming days. The Department is also exploring further actions it may need to take in the coming days to ensure patient safety.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Acinetobacter  is a group of bacteria commonly found in soil and water.

Acinetobacter baumannii accounts for about 80% of reported infections.

Outbreaks of Acinetobacter infections typically occur in intensive care units and healthcare settings housing very ill patients.

Acinetobacter causes a variety of diseases, ranging from pneumonia to serious blood or wound infections, and the symptoms vary depending on the disease. Acinetobacter may also “colonize” or live in a patient without causing infection or symptoms, especially in tracheostomy sites or open wounds.

Acinetobacter poses very little risk to healthy people. However, people who have weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease, or diabetes may be more susceptible to infections with Acinetobacter. Hospitalized patients, especially very ill patients on a ventilator, those with a prolonged hospital stay, those who have open wounds, or any person with invasive devices like urinary catheters are also at greater risk for Acinetobacter infection.

Acinetobacter is often resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics.