Health authorities at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) today sought to assure that the hospital’s drinking water was safe following a recent outbreak of the bacterial illness known as Burkholderia Cepacia Complex.
The bacteria, is said to be most harmful to persons suffering with renal disease or a weakened immune system, are usually found in soil and contaminated water.
However, in light of an upsurge in cases at the QEH over the past two months for which no details have been provided, one hospital official today sought to assure Barbados TODAY that the outbreak was in no way connected to the recent sewage problems on the south coast of the island or at the Bridgetown sewage treatment facility.
In a statement, the hospital also said that “we routinely test our potable water systems and results have consistently indicated that our water is safe for human consumption, and the Barbados Water Authority has confirmed this independently”.
Burkholder cepacia is transmitted from person-to-person or when people come into contact with contaminated surfaces. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, congestion and wheezing. Once a patient has been diagnosed with the condition, primarily via a saliva test, an aggressive treatment regimen involving antibiotics is recommended.
The QEH further assured that the necessary antibiotics were available to treat the cases detected there, and that it had “put mitigating measures in place which have arrested the increase in incidences and [are] designed to prevent recurrences”.
In the wake of the outbreak, Head of the QEH’s Infection Control Department Dr Corey Forde, “is also reminding Barbadians to indulge in good hand hygiene practices when visiting the health care facility, especially when it comes to ensuring their hands are clean before they touch a patient, and that they clean their hands after touching a patient or the patient’s surroundings, in accordance with the World Health Organisation’s hand hygiene moments.
“The Board of Management wishes to assure the public that the hospital has a robust surveillance programme which will ensure a rapid and well coordinated response to any microbial occurrences and is fully committed to providing the safest possible environment for our patients, staff and visitors,” the statement added.