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Superbug running rampant in hospitals


Superbug running rampant in hospitals

Green MP Sue Kedgley says a significant rise in infections caused by superbugs resistant to at least three different classes of antibiotics is an extremely serious public health issue that demands urgent action to improve infection control in our hospitals and to reduce the amount of antibiotics being used in human medicine and agriculture.

"This is a dangerous situation, because multi-resistant mMRSA are bugs are resistant to at least three different classes of antibiotics," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Health spokesperson. "If these bugs become resistant to further classes of antibiotics we may be faced with untreatable infections."

Ms Kedgley has revealed, through written Parliamentary questions, that last year 1961 people in New Zealand were infected with multi-resistant MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureaus, representing an increase of 14.6 per cent over the previous year. In total there were 7000 people infected with variants of the superbug MRSA last year.

"We already have a big problem with the potentially deadly superbug MRSA rampant in New Zealand hospitals," said Ms Kedgley. "Now we are seeing even more dangerous bugs mutating at alarming rates, and they are developing resistance to everything we're throwing at them. This is no science-fiction fantasy, this is happening in all of our hospitals."

"Not only can it slow the recovery or even kill patients," Ms Kedgley said. "But if it is not contained with intensive infection control measures it can force the temporary closure of wards or operating theatres and disrupt the normal daily business of a hospital."

Ms Kedgley said the fact that three quarters of all patients with mMRSA in 2002 were in a health care facility within the previous three months of the infection being discovered was significant, considering a damning report recently revealed many basic sanitary practices were not being followed.

"This report reveals the infection control in New Zealand hospitals is dangerously substandard," said Ms Kedgley.

"Even rudimentary infection control techniques such as having policies on wound dressing, bed management and screening patients are not being followed in some hospitals. We must see dramatic improvements in the sanitary conditions in our hospitals before these bugs, already resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, become an even more serious risk to our public health."

Ms Kedgley added there should be an immediate ban on the practice of routinely feeding chickens with antibiotics, following a recent report that found that 50 per cent of poultry flocks are infected with VRE (vancomycin resistant enterococci). "If VRE were to transfer its resistance to MRSA, we would have an untreatable superbug in our hospitals."

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