Doctors warn they are losing battle against superbugs
Published Sunday, June 16, 2013 10:32PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 16, 2013 10:52PM EDT
Hospitals across Canada are struggling to deal with new strains of killer bacteria that have already claimed the life of one Canadian and seem to be almost impossible to treat.
Five years ago, a new kind of multi-drug resistant bacteria turned up in hospitals across Canada. Laboratories identified five patient infections in 2008.
By last year, there were more than 350 documented cases.
These aren’t your ordinary superbugs like C. difficile, VRE and MRSA. New strains like Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baumannii often come from other countries.
In April, doctors in Alberta wrote a report on what is believed to be the first Canadian death from an infection that couldn’t be cured with standard antibiotics.
The superbugs are thought to have been brought to Canada by a patient who, in 2012, had returned to this country after a hospital stay in India. These infections were spread to five other patients, according to the report.
Similar infections are being treated across the country.
Doctors at Brampton Civic Hospital, who are seeing a growing number of multi-drug resistant infections, have turned to “last resort” treatments that have long been avoided due to their side effects.
“They can affect the kidneys, they have side effects,” Sergio Borgia, William Osler Health Centre’s infectious disease specialist, told CTV News.
“They are actually older drugs that have been brought out of retirement that we use now for these kinds of infections, so it is concerning.”
Some reports suggest the bacteria are becoming resistant to even these strongest drugs.
Michael Mulvey, Chief of Antimicrobial Resistance and Nosocomial Infections at the National Microbiology Laboratory, says there aren’t any new antibiotics in the pipeline.
“I don’t think we are going to be seeing anything new to treat these infections within five to 10 years,” Mulvey said.
While the problem hasn’t yet reached crisis proportions, doctors are starting to worry.
“It’s a problem with have to keep an eye on because it can be a big problem,” Roberto Melano, a microbiologist with Public Health Ontario, told CTV News.
More than 2,890 hospital patients in Canada are infected with superbugs at any one time, according to new research published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
In total, one in 12 adults in hospital either carried or was infected by one of the big three superbugs: C. difficile, VRE and MRSA.
With files from CTV's medical specialist Avis Favaro