A Serratia marcescens outbreak in a neonatal ICU in Spain has prompted the Ministry of Health to close the unit, according to a Radio Madrid report (computer translated).

Serratia marcescens/CDC
Serratia marcescens/CDC

According to the report, the ministry closed the neonatal ICU in a La Paz hospital when 51 babies were affected. Of the 51, 27 have developed some infection and 24 have been colonized (ie they are carriers but have not developed any infection).

While most of the children are now home, eleven babies remain in isolation. One neonatal death was reported; however, it has not been established whether Serratia has been the direct cause of its death because it was only 25 weeks of gestation, weighed less than 1,000 grams and had other pathologies associated with the prematurity.

In mid-June the leaders of the neonatal ICU in La Paz detected a greater presence of the bacteria and launched a Commission of Inquiry, which meets daily and establishes a series of measures.

According to the website, antimicrobe.org, Serratia marcescens is an opportunistic pathogen whose clinical significance has been appreciated only in the last four decades. While S.  marcescens is a rare cause of community-acquired infections, it has emerged as an important nosocomial healthcare-associated pathogen and a frequent source of outbreaks of hospital infection, in both adult and pediatric patients.

S. marcescens is implicated in a wide range of serious infections including pneumonia, lower respiratory tract infection, urinary tract infection, bloodstream infection, wound infection and meningitis. The organism has also been described as an important cause of ocular infection with high incidence in contact lens-related keratitis.