A premature baby has died in hospital following an outbreak of the pseudomonas bacteria, it has emerged.

The baby, who has not been identified, passed away in August at the Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

Dr Chris Burton, medical director of the North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “In August a premature baby sadly died in Southmead Hospital neonatal intensive care unit and pseudomonas infection contributed to the death.

“In light of experience in other neonatal ICUs where this has happened North Bristol trust immediately put in place measures to review infection control procedures in the unit and minimise the risk to other babies.”

Dr Burton said other babies at the unit had been tested and 12 were found to have pseudomonas bacteria on the skin.

“On its own this does not cause illness or require treatment but presents a risk if bacteria gets into the blood stream,” he said.

“One baby has had treatment for a minor infection but the others remain well and eight have been discharged home.

“Three babies with the bacteria on their skin remain in the unit but are being treated in isolation.”

The trust said pseudomonas bacteria has been found in the water supply in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“This is the most common source when similar events have happened in other units,” Dr Burton said.

“To minimise the risk to patients, strict infection control measures have been instituted for staff, parents and visitors.

“Babies are washed in sterile water and the tap water is being filtered to ensure that any pseudomonas bacteria is removed.

“Other measures that have been adopted include more regular testing and enhanced cleaning regimes.

“Whilst these measures have reduced the risk to babies, the hospital estates team are reviewing the water supply and considering other work that could be done to reduce the risk of pseudomonas.

“The actions that we are taking are based on national guidance and we are being supported in this work by the expertise of the Health Protection Agency.”

Dr Burton added: “Parents of babies in the unit have been given information about the infection and the reasons that strict precautions are in place.

“Admissions to the unit have been reduced while this is being resolved.”

The superbug is found widely in soil and stagnant water but does not usually cause illness in healthy people.