Officials at a hospital in Kagoshima in southwestern Japan are apologizing over the deaths of eight inpatients from a multiple drug-resistant bacteria known as "Acinetobacter".

"We pray from the bottom of our hearts for patients who died and apologize deeply," said Shoji Natsugoe, director of Kagoshima University Hospital.

The eight were among 15 inpatients who were found to have been infected with Acinetobacter or similar bacteria since September 2016.  Officials admitted that the infections could have accelerated the progression of the diseases of three of the eight dead patients. 

The infection is suspected to have spread through an intensive care unit (ICU).  Once an investigation determined the presence of Acinetobacter in April this year, the hospital disinfected the ICU and other places.  The bacterium has not been found since.

Acinetobacter actually exists everywhere in nature, and it causes practically no problems because its toxicity is weak and it causes no harm to healthy people.  The problems start when it grows in a hospital environment, where people with weakened or compromised immune systems are shut in; once exposed, their symptoms could become serious.