Doctors have warned that if a superbug which is known to be even more resistant to antibiotics than clostridium difficile and MRSA takes hold in hospitals, the country could face a pandemic.
The acinetobacter bug is being treated with older antibiotics because newer ones do not work. There are fears that injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have passed the infection on in civilian hospitals.
Prof Matthew Falagas, an expert in hospital-acquired infections, said: “In some cases, we have simply run out of treatments and we could be facing a pandemic with public health implications.”
He warned delegates at the Society for General Microbiology conference in Edinburgh: “Doctors in many countries have gone back to using old antibiotics that were abandoned 20 years ago because their toxic side-effects were so frequent and so bad.
“But superbugs like acinetobacter have challenged doctors all over the world by becoming resistant to these older medicines.
“Even Colistin, an antibiotic discovered 60 years ago, has recently been used. But now it occasionally fails as the bacteria has become resistant.”
There are more than 1,000 reports of acinetobacter infections every year in the UK, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Some strains can cause death through blood poisoning and pneumonia.
By Stephen Adams
Last Updated: 2:20am BST 02/04/2008
(Well, lets face it bacteria are evolving faster than the scientists who develop antibiotics. I knew this 10 years ago and now it’s coming. There are much better ways to fight bacteria than anti-biotics = against-life. – The Infinite Unknown)