San Juan de Dios Hospital in San José, Costa Rica, temporarily closed its neonatology services after a bacterial outbreak caused at least three deaths, authorities reported.
The serratia marcescens pathogen has infected at least six patients at the hospital, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) says. Three have died, while two remain hospitalized. The final patient has been discharged.
The outbreak was detected during routine monitoring as part of the hospital’s infectious disease protocols, the CCSS said. While the neonatology specialty is closed, the rooms and equipment will be thoroughly cleaned and monitored.
“The exhaustive cleaning and disinfection of the Neonatology service has already been completed,” the CCSS said. “The intervention will continue with vigilance and the active search for cases for at least three to four weeks, until there is evidence of three consecutive negative cultures for this bacteria and that no more cases appear.”
Babies who were not exposed to the bacteria were taken to another room at the hospital or transferred elsewhere.
Serratia marcescens was discovered in 1819 and originally considered to be innocuous. However, its abundance makes it a common source of hospital-acquired infections across the world, and its resistance to some broad-spectrum antibiotics can complicate treatment.