Hospital transfers babies from NICU after deadly bacteria found, reports say

CHEVERLY, Md. — A Maryland hospital closed its neonatal intensive care unit Tuesday and transferred the unit's patients to other hospitals after three babies tested positive for a deadly bacteria that has already claimed two lives, according to multiple reports.

Officials with Prince George's County Hospital Center told WRC three infants tested positive for Pseudomonas bacteria but showed no symptoms of an "active infection."

Instead, a spokeswoman with the nonprofit that runs the hospital, Dimensions Healthcare Corporation, told The Washington Post the nine patients in the NICU had been transferred "out of an abundance of caution" as health officials investigate the cause of the infections.

"While the investigation into the positive bacterium cultures is ongoing by qualified experts, our top immediate priority is the safe and efficient transfer of patients and providing support to our NICU families and staff," the hospital said in a statement released to WRC.

Citing unnamed sources, WJLA reported that the bacteria had been found in a pipe that supplies water to the NICU. The news station reported two infants died last week and health care providers believe a Pseudomonas infection was the cause.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pseudomonas bacteria are "found widely in the environment." The bacteria can cause a mild illness in healthy people or ear infections and skin rashes in children but the infection can be serious for hospitalized people or people with weakened immune systems.