‘Doctors are urgently trying to contain a potentially fatal superbug that has been found in 21 of the state’s most vulnerable babies at Monash Medical Centre and Casey Hospital in Melbourne’s south-east’ (Victoria) stated Julia Medew in a 26 November article in The Victoria Age.
‘There are also fears that the antibiotic-resistant bacterium – vancomycin resistant enterococcus, or VRE – may have travelled with one baby to another hospital in Melbourne, which has not been identified.’
‘The head of infection control for Monash Health, Dr Rhonda Stuart, said 21 babies at the Monash Medical Centre and Casey Hospital special care and intensive care units had tested positive for VRE in recent weeks. VRE is a bacterium that can colonise the gut and remain harmless for healthy people. However, it can cause serious infections in people with weakened immune systems, particularly cancer, transplant and kidney dialysis patients.’
”If the bacteria get into the baby through a tube or if they are being fed intravenously, potentially they could develop an infection that way, but with strict hand hygiene and good environmental control we don’t expect that to happen,” she said.
‘Victoria’s largest health service, Monash Health is working hard to contain and eliminate the superbug. Staff working with the babies are wearing gowns and gloves and washing their hands thoroughly.’
Monash Health was still trying to determine what type of VRE the babies were carrying, however the hand hygiene and environmental cleaning measures taken to try and contain the bug is testament to the vital role they play in infection control. The question lies in whether current methods or systems could be improved to avoid such an outbreak in the first place.