Newborns at risk as fatal bacteria reappears in SKIMS NICU

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, May 31: Amid a shortage of fogging solutions, the life-threatening, multi-drug-resistant strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae has resurfaced in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), endangering newborn patients.
Paediatric experts at SKIMS told Excelsior that the resurgence of the bacteria, known for its resilience against multiple antibiotics, poses a grave threat to newborns who already have weak immune systems and require a sterile environment to prevent infections. The issue arises amid a prolonged shortage of defogging solutions, crucial for maintaining sterile conditions in critical care areas.
“There was an outbreak of multi-drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae in the NICU two weeks ago. Surveillance was conducted, but defogging could not be performed due to the unavailability of the fogging solution in the hospital. Recently, the same strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae reappeared,” one expert said.
This issue extends beyond the NICU, affecting operation theaters, intensive care units (ICUs), and the rest of the hospital. “How is sterilization and disinfection being done when no fogging solution is available? I have no idea,” the expert added.
He said that the administration is aware of the shortage but is suggesting alternatives that do not affect the bacteria. “The absence of fogging solutions has impacted our infection control measures. Ensuring the safety of our newborns should be our top priority, and we urgently need these supplies,” he emphasized.
Medical Superintendent Farooq Jan acknowledged the shortage but noted that a minimum quantity is available with the sanitation staff.
“We have already placed an order for the fogging solution and surface disinfectant solutions. We have different disinfectants available, like sodium hypochlorite solution, sodium chloride solution, and phenyl concentrate, used by our sanitation teams to minimize the chances of any bacterial growth,” he said.
However, experts believe that alternative disinfection methods are not as effective as fogging. “As long as defogging is not done, bacterial growth will continue to reappear,” they warned.