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Monday 17th June 2019

New strains of hospital bugs emerging

23rd May 2012

Data from the Health Protection Agency has warned that new bacteria are emerging in NHS hospitals in England.


The HPA report, which gives a snapshot of infection rates and antibiotic use last autumn, found that while rates of MRSA and Clostridium difficile continue to fall, other infections such as E coli and salmonella are taking their place.

The total prevalence of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) decreased from 8.2% in 2006 to 6.4% in 2011, though this has been put down primarily to falls in MRSA and C difficile.

However, the survey of 103 trusts covering more than 52,000 patients, found that 3,360 patients (6.4%) had been diagnosed with a healthcare-associated infection with a third of the cases being caused by bacteria such as salmonella and E coli, which are collectively known as coliforms.

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

“It is clear that we need to find ways to control and prevent transmission of these bacteria, and this is an important priority.”

While most HCAIs developed while the patient was in hospital, up to 20% of them were present when the patients was admitted to hospital.

HPA data has highlighted indications of rising rates of infection and over the last five years there has been a 35% increase in reports of E coli blood infections.

During the same period MRSA and C difficile infections have gone down by more than 70%.


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