Legionella bacteria hbeFour doctors implicated in the deaths of three newborn babies from Legionnaire’s disease at a Nicosia private clinic in 2008 have pleaded guilty to not up-keeping maintenance regulations, leading to the water distributing system becoming infected with Legionella bacteria.

The Clinic’s director and three of the nursery and maternity ward’s doctors are facing charges in relation to the circumstances leading to the hospitalisation of 11 infants and the death of three, all born at the clinic in December 2008.

According to state prosecutor Rikkos Mappourides, all four doctors have pleaded guilty and now await trial at Nicosia District Court.

“Last week, the three doctors admitted to one charge – that they acted in violation of the law by not exercising the necessary maintenance, which led to Legionnaire’s developing in the system,” said Mappourides.

He added that the clinic’s director, who arrived from the US to attend yesterday’s trial, also admitted to two charges to the same effect – one based on the law for hospitals’ operation in Cyprus and another on regulations for health and safety in the workplace.

“As they admitted the general charges – that they didn’t exercise the necessary checks resulting in the legionnaires developing in the system and affecting and killing the babies – the specific charges regarding each and every child have been dropped,” said Mappourides.

Eleven infants were admitted to the intensive care unit of Makarios state hospital in Nicosia a few days following their release from the Hippocration Clinic. They were diagnosed with pneumonia, caused by Legionnaire’s disease.

Three died and one was put on a respirator due to severe pneumonia although the baby recovered and was later released from hospital.

The infant deaths provoked public outrage, after it emerged that bacteria causing the disease were found in a humidifier as well as parts of the Hippocration’s water distributing system – all because the appropriate maintenance measures weren’t taken.