Deadly bacteria kills two babies as toilets overflow at Mpumalanga hospital

White River - Two babies have died at Themba Hospital after contracting multidrug-resistant Klebsiella bacteria, the Mpumalanga health department said on Monday.

Six babies were infected. Two died, while three were treated and discharged, spokesperson Dumisane Malamule said.

The infection in the sixth baby cleared up, but it was still in hospital for other reasons.

- Health24: Klebsiella virus

Malamule said the bacteria had not been linked to water shortages in Kabokweni, which also affected the hospital.

“Whether water [shortages] caused the Klebsiella is another question as there are many causes of the infection. Klebsiella do occur even if water is available.”

Malamule said water supply was beyond the hospital management's control.

“Naturally, if there is no water in the township, the hospital is also affected. The problem is due to water supply reliability. However, the Mbombela Local Municipality does send water tankers if there is a drop in the water level. Our own water tanker is also assisting. In short, the hospital does experience water shortages, but the contingency plan has kicked in,” he added.

For the past two weeks, nurses and doctors had been unable to work.

One patient, Siphiwe Madonsela, 22, said she had spent 11 days in the hospital to deliver her baby.

“Already, a number of babies died in my presence. This place is horrible. I can’t wait to go home with my newborn still alive,” she said.

Constance Sibiya said she was told to bring water and clean blankets after her sister and husband were admitted to the hospital on April 28.

None of the toilets at the hospital were working. The outside toilets were blocked. The door to the toilets at the emergency ward’s entrance had been sealed with masking tape.

“I can let you into the toilet, but it’s not flushing. There is no water. We pour water using our packets but we only do it for emergency. Just hold yourself until you get home,” an employee told a News24 correspondent.