Superbug death toll rises to three

2011-10-18 09:06

A third person has died after being detected with a “superbug” at the Life Glynnwood Hospital in Benoni, a spokesperson said today.

“I can confirm that,” said Adam Pyle.

One more case had also been detected at the private facility, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 10 since Friday.

Further details of the three patients who died were not immediately available.

Yesterday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said the patients who were infected with the bug already had advanced disease due to underlying chronic illness.

It was likely that the “co-morbidities” played a major role in their deaths.

Dr Steve Taylor, medical director for Life Healthcare, said by October 14 nine patients had been confirmed as being either carriers or infected with New Delhi metallo-b-lactamase – which produces an enzyme NDM-1 that makes it extremely resistant to antibiotics.

Previously most patients infected with NDM-1 producing bacteria could be traced back to people who had recently visited India or received medical treatment there, the hospital said.

However, the ability of NDM-1 bacterial resistance to spread rapidly meant that secondary infections unrelated to travel to the Indian subcontinent had begun to surface around the world.

NDM-1 bacterial infections could occur in any healthcare facility worldwide and in South Africa, and had been identified in both private and public sector hospitals in the UK, US, Australia, Japan and Kenya, Taylor said.

In most cases, the NDM-1-producing bacteria lived within the gastro-intestinal tract of a person without causing harm.

People could live for months without even knowing they were carriers of these bacteria and would not present with any symptoms.

However, when human host immune systems become compromised, or when gut colonising NDM-1 producing bacteria spread to the bloodstream or urinary tract, or when they were spread from an infected source to a new patient, potentially serious infections could occur, the hospital said.

Extra monitoring has been put in place and all patients admitted to the intensive care and high care units were being screened.

Doctors would also be asked to review antibiotic treatments they had ordered. 

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