Did an infant die as a result of a viral infection circulating in the children’s hospital she was in? Her parents are now suing the hospital, alleging that poor hygiene led to the outbreak that caused her death.

Outbreak At A Children’s Hospital

In 2016, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) experienced an adenovirus outbreak that affected infants in the facility. In a medical journal article published about the outbreak, it was revealed that it was caused by medical staff failing to wear gloves and to clean equipment properly after conducting an eye exam on 43 infants, of whom 23 caught the viral infection. One equipment used during the eye examination was an ophthalmoscope, an instrument that is used to inspect the interior of the eye.

All of the 23 infants infected experienced respiratory symptoms, five of whom developed pneumonia, while 11 also experienced eye infection symptoms. In addition to the infants, six hospital staff also contracted the viral infection. The report did not state, however, if any of the children died as a result of the illness.

Lawsuit Over Infant’s Death

Now, the parents of prematurely born Melanie Sanders are suing CHOP in regard to her death allegedly linked to the 2016 outbreak. According to the lawsuit, Melanie was being treated for eye problems related to her premature birth and that she began experiencing respiratory symptoms mere weeks after being transferred to the hospital. Drainage tubes had to be placed in her chest four times, and she also developed a bacterial infection on top of the viral infection before she died on Sept. 11, 2016.

The lawsuit states that Melanie tested positive for adenovirus and that she was one of the infants affected by the outbreak, but lawyers representing the hospital stated in response that the survival of premature infants is really uncertain for various reasons.

The hospital declined to comment on the lawsuit but said in a statement that the hospital made a swift and proactive response once it learned of the outbreak and immediately put in place several infection control procedures and safety enhancements.


Adenoviruses are common viruses that can cause several illnesses and cold-like symptoms, bronchitis, sore throat, diarrhea, and conjunctivitis or pink eye. It is commonly spread from person to person through close contact, through the air, and by touching a surface infected with adenovirus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. In the case of the CHOP outbreak, it was allegedly the contaminated equipment that mainly passed the virus from one patient to another.

Anyone can contract adenovirus at any age, but those with weakened immune systems, in this case premature babies, are more prone to getting sick from an adenovirus infection.

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