Chicken pox outbreak at Burnley’s flagship women’s and childen’s unit

BABIES in intensive care at Burnley General Hospital have been isolated after an outbreak of chicken pox.

Health bosses said a member of staff and a visitor at the flagship Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre had contracted the illness.

For babies with a low immunity, visiting has been restricted to people who are immune to chicken pox and as yet no infants have been found to have the virus.

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Mrs Rineke Schram, director of infection prevention and control for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Additional infection control procedures have been put in place within the neonatal intensive care unit after it was identified that a staff member and a visitor had developed chicken pox. No babies have shown symptoms of having the virus, and the unit remains open.

“Checks have been made regarding the immunity of babies, parents and staff. Babies with low levels of immunity are being cared for together in isolated sections of the unit, and given drugs which boost their immunity levels, in line with national guidance.

“For those babies identified as having low immunity, visiting has been restricted to people who are immune to chicken pox – particular care is being taken in the cases of families who have other children who have never had the virus.

“The Trust makes pre-employment checks on all staff members with regards to chicken pox, and offers vaccine to staff who are not immune. Most staff are already immune to chicken pox, having had it in childhood, and the vaccination is not 100% effective.

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“Chicken pox symptoms typically do not develop until a couple of days after a person is at their most contagious, and up to two weeks after the person initially came into contact with the virus. As such, we will continue to follow the additional infection control procedures for at least two weeks.”

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