Hospital infections down but new strains emerging
Hospital infections down but new strains emerging

Controlling hospital infections such as salmonella and Ecoli must be a priority say experts

While there has been a drop in rates of the superbug MRSA and C difficile other infections like E coli appear to have taken their place they say

Health Protection Agency data gives a snapshot of infection rates and antibiotic use by NHS hospitals in England in the autumn of 2011

It shows overall that infection rates are down but new bacteria are emerging

The total prevalence of healthcareassociated infections HCAIs decreased from 82 in 2006 to 64 in 2011

But much of this decrease was due to lower rates of MRSA and C difficile infections that the government has repeatedly targeted with policies

At the same time rates of other infections like Ecoli appear to be rising

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Coliforms

A family of bacteria which include E coli that we all have in our gut
In most people they are present but harmless
In the frail the elderly sick and very young they can cause significant illness
Infections can occur in wounds the urinary tract the lungs and the blood
Infection can be spread by contamination of equipment such as catheters
Good hygiene including the sterilising of equipment can help prevent their spread
In the 103 hospital trusts surveyed covering more than 52000 patients a total of 3360 patients 64 had been diagnosed with a healthcareassociated infection

In a third of cases bacteria such as salmonella and Ecoli collectively known as coliforms were the cause

And 12 of these were resistant to the antibiotics normally used to treat these infections cephalosporins

Experts are concerned that coliforms infections are becoming more prevalent and harder to treat

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When you get rid of one bacteria another one will sneak into its place

Dr Susan Hopkins
Healthcare epidemiologist at the HPA
Surveillance figures gathered by the HPA suggest rates of infection are creeping up

Over the last five years there has been a 35 increase in reports of E coli blood infections

Report author Dr Susan Hopkins said quotWhen you get rid of one bacteria another one will sneak into its place We are seeing a slow but steady rise in E coli

quotIt is clear that we need to find ways to control and prevent transmission of these bacteria and this is an important priorityquot

Most HCAIs developed during the patients stays in the hospital

But a fifth of HCAIs were present on admission to hospital

Unlike MRSA which can be screened for everyone possess coliform bacteria In most people they exists harmlessly in the gut But in some people typically the elderly very sick or very young they can cause serious and even lifethreatening infections

Dr Hopkins said quotEveryone has it so we cant screen and get rid of it We need to look at better hygiene to prevent infectionsquot

The report reveals that MRSA and C difficile infections have gone down by more than 70 over the last five years There was an 18fold decline in overall MRSA infections 13 to 01 and a fivefold decline in C difficile infections 20 to 04 between the 2006 and 2011 surveys

Date : 23 May, 2012
Reference : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18161850

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