YOUNG cancer patients at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow have hit by a bacterial infection due to problems with the water supply.

For the first six months of the year "a number" of patients in wards 2A and 2B were affected by bacteraemia.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), which has on Tuesday, provided information for the first time about the problems, said patients have now been moved from the two wards due to continuing issue after extensive work was carried out on the taps.

There were no further cases of for several weeks, but in recent weeks  six new cases have been reported.

The health board said that while all the children have recovered and been discharged or are continuing with their normal treatments, they instigated an Incident Management Team to further "investigate and manage the situation".

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Original work involved replacing metal parts inside taps with plastic ones and attaching filters to the taps and the drains cleaned with a chlorine based detergent. The ward environment was cleaned with Hydrogen Peroxide Vapour (HPV).

The health board said: "What we are seeing is a build-up of biofilm in the drains which is the same sort of biofilm we get in domestic sink drains. This build up has happened only seven weeks after they were cleaned by HPV.

"We have worked with national experts in Scotland and sought advice from UK experts on the issue as we seek to find a permanent solution and understand why this has happened.

"These wards treat children with cancer who have very low immunity to infections so to let our experts in and put cameras down the drains we need to move the patients."

Ward 2A has a combination of haemato-oncology patients and other cancer patients. Four bone marrow patients will move to the bone marrow adult ward (4b) in the adjoining Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH).


The remainder of the 22 patients from ward 2A and the outpatients who attend ward 2B will move to another ward in the QEUH.

The health board added: "Patient safety is the one key overriding issue and this temporary move will enable our technical experts to make thorough investigations."

Bacteraemia involves the presence of bacteria in the blood. 
Patients can develop a fever, a rapid heart rate, shaking chills, low blood pressure, gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The immune response to the bacteria can cause sepsis and septic shock, which has a high mortality rate.

Bacteria can also spread via the blood to other parts of the body causing infections away from the original source of infection, such as endocarditis or osteomyelitis.

Treatment for bacteremia is usually with antibiotics.