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Superbug found in Vic hospitals

Superbug found in Vic hospitals
Photo: Superbug found in Vic hospitals
Victorian hospitals to crack down on infection controls after almost 60 cases were found across the state.

A superbug cluster in a Victorian health service has authorities worried after eighteen people died with it in their systems.

Victorian hospitals are introducing heightened infection controls to deal with the antibiotic resistant bug, acting chief health officer Finn Romanes says.

It is believed to have been brought into the county by people who spent time in hospital while visiting Greece or Asia.

While it's not known how the patients contracted the bug, doctors believe it might be picked up through faecal to oral transmission.

Since 2012, 57 Victorians have been found with a Klebsiella Pneumoniae Carbapenemase infection or be carrying the bacteria without symptoms of illness.
During that time, 18 have died statewide with KPC in their systems but it's not believed to be the sole cause of the deaths.

"We are now facing a global public health threat where traditional antibiotics are no longer suitable," Dr Romanes told reporters on Tuesday.

"So far this year, three cases have been identified at St Vincent's, Hospital and the common link is inpatient admission since January 2015."

KPC can be present in someone's bowels without causing clinical disease, Dr Romanes says.

But some patients, normally those who already have low immunity such as those with cancer or diabetes, might develop illness such as urinary tract or blood stream infections.

Of the 57 cases in Victoria, 28 were found in Melbourne's St Vincent's.

Ten were treated for the infection, the others were not made sick by it.

St Vincent's infectious diseases associate professor Kumar Visvanathan said the hospital was doing everything it could to eradicate KPC.

"While it's early days yet we believe we are having some success," Dr Visvanathan told reporters on Tuesday.

KPC could have been a contributing factor in the deaths of two patients at St Vincent's who were already suffering from serious medical conditions, he said.

Health minister Jill Hennessy said while there was no broad public health risk to the general community, the issue was being taken seriously.

"We've identified a cluster of KPC in a Victorian health service and that's why the acting health officer, and medical officers have instigated a response to make sure we can identify, contain and address it," she said.

The mortality rate for the infection has been reported to be up to 50 per cent.


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