An outbreak of Klebsiella pneumoniae at the Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital in Vosloorus that began several weeks ago has grown to a dozen neonatal infections, including six deaths.

Klebsiella pneumoniae/CDC
Klebsiella pneumoniae/CDC

According to the provincial heath department, the hospital’s neonatal unit currently houses a total of 70 babies, 19 of whom are “new admissions in the newly sanitised area”.

“There are 51 neonates from July and August 2018 who are being closely monitored,” it confirmed.

An investigation is currently being coordinated by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Directorate of Gauteng Provincial Department of Health. The aim of the ongoing investigation is to verify the number of persons affected and to conduct an IPC audit.

Klebsiella pneumoniae is a bacterium that is known to cause different types of healthcare-associated infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, wound or surgical site infections. Due to their increasing resistance to a class of antibiotics known as carbapenems, some strains of Klebsiella bacteria can cause infections which can longer be treated by carbepenems.

Persons who are at risk for infections with carbapenem-resistant organisms such as Klebsiella are those who have severe illness, surgical patients, patients who stay in hospital for prolonged periods, persons undergoing organ or stem cell transplantation, persons in intensive care and those who are on mechanical ventilation. Although less common, some persons can also acquire infection in the community. Healthy persons are usually not at risk for these infections.