A MOTHER has caught MRSA from her baby son following a shock outbreak at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.
Jenna Hodgkiss and her partner Wayne Jenkinson claim it took hospital bosses weeks to warn them that one-month-old Kian had contracted the superbug on the neo-natal unit.
By that time Jenna, 20, had become infected with the virus herself after breast-feeding her baby and has since had to go back into hospital after developing abscesses on her chest.
Wayne believes he too may have contracted the virus and has been prescribed a course of antibiotics.
The unit has been closed for the past month after four other babies also tested positive for MRSA, which can be fatal if it enters the bloodstream.
And a major row has developed about patients being kept in the dark.
Speaking as he cradled Kian at home in Marlborough Road, Accrington, Wayne, 22, said: "It has been really tough and now I just want Jenna to come home. Kian is really missing his mum. It has been a very stressful time for everyone."
The nightmare began when baby Kian was born at the hospital on 15 September. Despite some minor breathing difficulties, he was allowed home four days later.
But about a week later his parents noticed he had developed blisters in his groin area.
Worried by this, they took him back to the hospital to get it checked out but were told it was just nappy rash.
Then, on 5 October, they had a visit at home from a doctor who warned them that there had been an outbreak of MRSA at the hospital.
Shortly after this, Jenna became ill and last Tuesday she was taken into hospital after developing an abscess on her left breast.
This was operated on two days later but she has now developed three more on her chest and is still recovering at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.
Kian said: "It only takes them three days to do the tests to find out if it is MRSA but we were kept waiting for about three weeks.
"I can't fault the nursing staff at the hospital as they have been great in looking after us. But we just feel like we have been kept in the dark.
"We have been badly let down and we just want to get things sorted out so we can get back to life as normal.
"Jenna has been really down and it is a hard situation for her to deal with. I feel disgusted that we weren't told earlier."
Wayne, a printer, said he had had to take time off work to look after baby Kian while Jenna recovers.
Speaking to the Observer from her hospital bed, Jenna said: "We have a lot of questions that we would like answered."
Jo Cubbon, chief executive for the East Lancashire NHS Hospitals Trust, said: "Our neo-natal intensive care unit continues not to take any planned new admissions following the identification of the MRSA organism on the unit in mid-September.
"It is important to emphasise that there have been no new cases since 24 September and we continue to closely monitor the situation.
"We wish to be absolutely clear that we will not accept any new babies onto the unit until our doctors and nurses are satisfied that there is no risk to babies or their families and the unit is clear of MRSA.
"Of the 17 cots on the unit, there were five babies who tested positive for MRSA colonisation. I am pleased to say that following treatment the majority have now re-tested negative.''
Mrs Cubbon said the infections were on the skin or other parts of the body outside the bloodstream and would not necessarily have untoward effects.
Individuals might not show any symptoms of illness but would be able to pass the organism on.
She added: "MRSA in a normal healthy individual does not need hospitalisation. They can normally be treated by their GP with antibiotics.
"As always, the babies' safety is our main priority and our staff are working hard to maintain the highest level of care possible for them."
MRSA the facts ...
- MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.
- It was first discovered in 1961 in the UK and is commonly called a superbug.
- About one in three people carry MRSA on their skin or in their noses without developing any infection.
- If it gets into the body through a break in the skin, it can cause infections such as boils, abscesses or impetigo.
- If it gets into the bloodstream it can cause more serious infections and even prove fatal.
- Most strains can be treated with antibiotics such as methicillin which is a type of penicillin.