Number of cases of deadly superbug on the rise

Wednesday 13th March 2019 - Eilish O'Regan , Irish Independent View Article Here

Cases of a deadly hospital superbug are escalating, despite a major drive to reduce infections on wards.

New figures show there were 536 patients found to have the dreaded CPE bug last year, compared to 433 in 2017.

CPE lives harmlessly in the gut but can be dangerous if it gets into the bloodstream - more than half of all patients who develop infections with CPE die directly or indirectly as a result.

It poses a particular risk to people with weakened immune systems and the elderly and it was declared a public health emergency in October 2017.

It is particularly feared because it is so difficult to kill with antibiotics.

A report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre showed not all patients who were found to have the bug could be isolated in their own rooms in overcrowded hospitals to avoid risk to other patients.

It showed that Tallaght Hospital in Dublin was worst hit with 78 cases last year, followed by Galway University Hospitals where there were 56 patients diagnosed. University Hospital Limerick reported 45 cases with 41 in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, 39 in University Hospital, Waterford, 32 in St James's Hospital, Dublin, and 31 in the Mater Hospital, Dublin.

Other hospitals also recording cases included Cork University Hospital, which had 20 cases, and Mercy Hospital, Cork, where 18 patients were diagnosed.

The superbug also affected private hospitals where 31 patients were diagnosed and it was also found in some long-term care homes.

Last year, thousands of patients had to be written to to tell them they had "shared space" and been in a ward or other part of the hospital where another patient had CPE.

People may be either colonised or infected with CPE. People who are colonised with CPE have bacteria present in a part of their body - usually the bowel - where it lives without causing an infection. However, infection can occur when CPE enters other parts of the body which are normally sterile, such as the bloodstream.

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