Doctors are trying to contain a potentially dangerous superbug which has been found on several babies at Monash Medical Centre and Casey Hospital in Berwick.
Over the past three weeks, several infants in the hospitals' nurseries have been found to be carrying the superbug Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE), however they have not fallen ill with it.
According to a Monash Health statement issued on Monday, it is likely these babies have been colonised rather than infected with the bacteria which does not cause harm to healthy people in such circumstances.
However, it can be fatal if it causes infections for people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients, transplant recipients or those on dialysis, for example.
In a bid to contain the superbug which can spread rapidly on people's hands and through faeces, the health service said it had implemented a "robust set of measures to reduce the risk of transmission or infection".
While some of the babies carrying VRE had been discharged home, the statement said newly admitted babies would have no exposure to babies who potentially carry the organism and each nursery bay was being isolated for disinfection as babies were discharged.
The service said it had also commenced "precautionary screening" at other Monash Health hospitals including Moorabbin and Dandenong hospitals, as well as the Kingston Centre and Cranbourne Integrated Community Care Centre.
"The transfer of babies between our sites and other health services has been heavily restricted. We have been openly communicating with parents on this matter," the statement said.
VRE is a type of bacteria that is resistant to Vancomycin, an antibiotic that is often used to treat very serious infections. It can cause infection or colonisation.
"Infection means that bacteria are in, or on, the body and are making you sick. Colonisation means the bacteria exists in, or on, the body but is not causing illness," the Monash Health statement said.
Both colonised and infected people can spread the bacteria which is often found on people's hands after they have come into contact with other people with VRE or have touched surfaces that are contaminated.