Su­per­bug was spread in hos­pi­tal by shared equip­ment

Out­break of drug-re­sis­tant life-threat­en­ing fun­gus linked to use of same tem­per­a­ture probes

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Sarah Knap­ton Sci­ence editor

SHAR­ING equip­ment in hos­pi­tals could be spread­ing deadly su­per­bugs, ex­perts have con­cluded, af­ter find­ing most pa­tients car­ry­ing a Ja­panese fun­gal infection had been mon­i­tored with the same armpit ther­mome­ters, re­search has found

Last Au­gust, Pub­lic Health Eng­land (PHE) warned that the drug-re­sis­tant fun­gus had spread to at least 55 hos­pi­tals across Bri­tain, in­fect­ing more than 200 pa­tients. At the time, a lack of nurs­ing staff was blamed for the out­breaks, with NHS trusts or­dered to carry out deep cleans to avoid fur­ther spread.

But new re­search by the Univer­sity of Ox­ford has found that in at least one out­break, armpit ther­mome­ters had been used in 57 out of the 66 in­fected pa­tients (86 per cent). A spokesman for Pub­lic Health Eng­land said: “These find­ings are spe­cific to one hos­pi­tal, but they do high­light that hos­pi­tals who see a po­ten­tial out­break need to look at ev­ery pos­si­ble thing in the ward.”

Dr David Eyre from the Nuffield Depart­ment of Medicine at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford said: “De­spite a bun­dle of infection con­trol in­ter­ven­tions, the out­break was only con­trolled fol­low­ing re­moval of the tem­per­a­ture probes.

“This re­in­forces the need to care­fully in­ves­ti­gate the en­vi­ron­ment, and in par­tic­u­lar multi-use pa­tient equip­ment, in any un­ex­plained health­car­e­as­so­ci­ated out­break.”

The fun­gus, called Can­dida au­ris (C. au­ris), was first iden­ti­fied in Ja­pan in 2009, in the ear canal of a 70-year-old woman. Since then it has spread rapidly around the globe, emerg­ing in at least five con­ti­nents, with the first UK case de­tected in 2013.

Healthy pa­tients can usu­ally fend off the fun­gus, but those with com­pro­mised im­mune sys­tems can de­velop a blood­stream infection, which can prove fa­tal, or cause ma­jor dis­abil­i­ties such as hear­ing loss.

For the new study, re­searchers an­a­lysed 70 pa­tients ad­mit­ted to Ox­ford Univer­sity Hos­pi­tals Neu­ro­sciences In­ten­sive Care Unit (NICU), who car­ried C. au­ris and found 66 had not had the infection when they en­tered the unit.

Seven pa­tients de­vel­oped in­va­sive in­fec­tions, but none died di­rectly as a re­sult of a C. au­ris infection.

Re­searchers dis­cov­ered the fun­gus on the sur­face of the tem­per­a­ture probes and af­ter cross ref­er­enc­ing it with the pa­tient sam­ples found it was the same ge­netic strain. They also found it was re­sis­tant to com­mon treat­ment and sur­vived de­spite rig­or­ous hy­giene in the ward.

Hos­pi­tals and nurs­ing homes have now been or­dered to iso­late any af­fected pa­tients and to carry out deep cleans of in­fected ar­eas.

The re­search was pre­sented yes­ter­day at the 28th Euro­pean Congress of Clin­i­cal Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and In­fec­tious Dis­eases in Madrid.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.