Three babies have died at a hospital in Northern Ireland following the outbreak of a bacterial infection.
An investigation was launched Thursday after the deaths of two infants at the Royal Hospital in Belfast were linked to the Pseudomonas infection, which can affect the chest, blood and urine of victims. News of the third infant death at the hospital was released Friday.
The bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, is found in soil, water, plants and animals and is particularly harmful to those with weakened immune systems.
Northern Ireland's health minister, Edwin Poots, said, "This is a serious incident. The priority now is to identify the source of the infection and minimize the risk of spread to other extremely vulnerable babies in the unit."
He added, "I have asked the trust to work with the Public Health Agency to ensure all necessary steps are swiftly taken to identify the source of the infection so that we contain it and reduce the risk of spreading."
Speaking after the details of the first two fatalities were made public, a representative for the hospital said, "Sadly two ill babies have died whose deaths may be linked to this outbreak."
"We are supporting these families at this very difficult time. We are in the process of investigating the outbreak and taking all steps to identify the source," the spokesperson added.