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Tuesday, 25 July 2006 08:16
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
New alert on superbugs
According to new figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) cases of Clostridium difficile infection in patients aged 65 years and above increased by 17.2% in England over the last year, from 44,107 in 2004 to 51,690 in 2005.

C. difficile is a common hospital-acquired infection which usually causes diarrhoea but can lead to fevers or more serious infections.

Older people are particularly at risk, but the figures show that approximately around 13,000 cases were also recorded among younger patients.

Almost 30% of samples in 2005 were caused by C. difficile ribotype 027, which has previously been associated with major outbreaks.

The HPA said there were concerns that 027 was linked to increased severity of symptoms and increased rates among younger people.

The latest figures also show cases of MRSA in England fell by 2.5% to 3,517 in the six months ending March 2006.

Sir William Stewart, Chairman of the Agency, said:"This is the first time that the Health Protection Agency has published these figures together, and they provide a detailed picture of the challenge posed by healthcare associated infections. This data will play a vital role in helping hospitals measure their performance. Rates are not the same across the country. Some hospitals are doing an outstanding job, others have much to do".

Dr Georgia Duckworth, head of the Agency's HCAI Department, said:"Nationally the increase in C. difficile and limited decrease in MRSA cases indicate there is much work to be done, but today's figures show some encouraging signs. Individual trusts, such as the six who reported no MRSA blood poisoning cases at all and others with significant reductions in cases are leading the way in reducing healthcare-associated infection."

"The MRSA enhanced surveillance figures will be especially useful in identifying where the MRSA was acquired, allowing a more targeted approach to control. These figures will help us further understand the problem and show how we can best tackle the disease."

"It is also important to remember that not all healthcare-associated infections are preventable. Some of these infections are the price we pay for advances in medicine which allow patients to survive who would have been unlikely to survive their illness a few years ago”.


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