A superbug has contaminated hand-washing sinks in the
intensive care unit at Melbourne's Dandenong Hospital, making
10 patients ill with the bacteria that have killed people
The hospital has been struggling to contain the
multidrug-resistant bacteria since 2009, a report in the
Medical Journal of Australia says.
Ten patients have been infected since then, but none have
died from the infection.
Infectious disease specialist Rhonda Stuart said the bacteria
known as CRE were found in sinks where staff washed their
hands. While it cannot be proved, this might have spread the
infection to patients because the design of the sinks caused
water to splash back off the drain, Fairfax reported.
The hospital is preparing to replace the sinks, which in the
meantime are being cleaned regularly with 170-degree
"No patients have tested positive for the bacteria since
we've undertaken this process, so we're happy things have
been controlled with the new steam technology," said
Associate Professor Stuart.
CRE (Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae) is a new class
of multidrug-resistant bacteria that have the ability to
spread drug resistance to other bacteria.
The superbug is thought to be an emerging issue in Australian
hospitals, with microbiologists and infectious disease
experts calling for action to prevent their spreading.
Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases president David
Looke and colleagues wrote in the Medical Journal that health
authorities need to be "brave enough" to make difficult
decisions on the use of antibiotics if Australia is to avoid
a "plague" of multidrug-resistant bacteria that would make
many illnesses untreatable.