Hospital monitors superbug infection

THOUGH it has a formidable name, and is labelled a "superbug", there is no cause for alarm about the detection of cases of VRE at Mackay Base Hospital, according to hospital officials.

VRE, or vancomycin resistant enterococci, is a bacteria that has become resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin, which is often used to treat very serious infections.

Mackay Base Hospital executive director of clinical services Dr David Farlow confirmed yesterday one patient had developed a VRE infection since November.

"Colonisation of the bacteria was also detected in the intestinal tract of a small number of other patients, although they have not become sick or developed an infection," Dr Farlow said.

He said enterococci were bacteria naturally present in the intestinal tract of all people, and some strains of the bacteria had become resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin.

"Bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics are difficult to treat and can spread through healthcare facilities," Dr Farlow said.

"Our more intensive cleaning of rooms and increased hand hygiene protocols are decreasing the number of detections each week."

Good personal hygiene to avoid cross contamination is the best defence against VRE. You can find out more on the Queensland Health website.

Go to http://www.health.qld.gov.au and type VRE into the search function.



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