NEWARK — State health officials are investigating a bacterial outbreak at University Hospital, marking the second fatal outbreak involving child patients this month at a health facility in the state.

The New Jersey Department of Health learned about cases of acinetobacter baumannii on Oct. 1. For the past three weeks, two teams from the health department have been investigating, revealing "major infection control deficiencies." Four patients in the neonatal intensive care unit have developed infections.

The issues in Newark come as the state continues to get reports of cases of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. The virus has been attributed as causing the death of seven "medically fragile children" at the hospital, starting on Oct. 9.

At the end of September, a premature baby who had tested positive for the bacteria at University Hospital was transferred to another hospital before dying, the health department said. The death came before the state was aware of the problem.

The death, however, cannot be directly attributed to the bacteria due to "other compounding medical conditions," the department said.

In a letter to the hospital, the department said the inspections Oct. 18, 19 and 21 found several problems, including with hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment and cleanliness. The department said the hospital failed to implement outbreak control measures that that the department's Communicable Disease Service had recommended on Oct. 4.

Acinetobacter baumannii is caused by the acinetobacter bacteria. Bacterial infections involving acinetobacter typically happen in intensive care units. The bacteria can cause diseases ranging from pneumonia to blood or wound infections. The CDC notes that treatment is difficult because the bacteria is "often resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics." As a result it can "either cause or contribute to death."

The hospital has agreed to hire a full-time independent certified infection control practitioner who reports to the health department.

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