Traces of a deadly infection which recently claimed the lives of four infants in Northern Ireland hospitals, have been found in three more neonatal care units.

According to health-care officials, the pseudomonas bacteria has been detected in water outlets at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, Co Down, Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh, and the Erne Hospital in Co Fermanagh. The Public Health Agency (PHA) said no babies have been infected.

Separate outbreaks claimed the lives of one newborn at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry in December and three at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital in Belfast last month. Traces of the infection were also found at Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of Belfast last month, although no infants contracted it. The water systems were the source in all six hospitals where the infection was detected.
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A spokeswoman from the PHA assured that measures have been enforced to insure that babies do not come in contact with pseudomonas and that only sterile water was being used in the direct care of newborns.

"It is not clear at this stage exactly what the implications are of finding pseudomonas in water supplies and what longer-term monitoring is required,” she said.

"National guidance is being developed urgently for the whole of the UK, with experts taking account of all of the scientific evidence available, including the evolving situation in Northern Ireland."