Sunday, April 29, 2018

Nordic Scientists Warn Brussels Over 'Superbugs'

In the real world, staff at Nordic hospitals are fighting hard to stop antibiotic resistant bacteria from spreading. 
Nykoepings Lasarett, a hospital in Sweden, in March cancelled operations and closed infected sections to stop a superbug named VRE from infecting patients.
As many as 250 patients received a letter from the hospital urging them to test if they carried the bacteria after being treated in the hospital.
"The hospitals do not control the infection yet," reported Sweden's public broadcaster, EKOT, on Thursday (26 April). 
The first VRE case was discovered in Huddinge in northern Sweden before the turn of the year and about 60 patients have now been infected in the Stockholm region. 
In Nykoeping, 44 patients have been reported infected and the resistant intestinal bacterium has spread further between several hospitals and infected patients also in Umeaa, Oerebro plus Nykoeping for several months.
No patient has been seriously ill until now. Most people do not notice that they have been infected, but patients with weakened health may succumb to serious infections such as blood poisoning.
The superbug VRE is part of a much bigger problem, according to Nordic researchers speaking at a seminar in the European Parliament organised by the Nordic council on Wednesday (25 April).
In Europe alone 25,000 people are estimated to die yearly because of multi-resistant bacteria, according to studies published by the Nordic countries.
Less than a century ago, pneumonia often led to death, but the risk was dramatically reduced after the first antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered in 1928.
Antibiotics have been used widely ever since, from human medicine to animal food and saved millions of lives.
But now the risk of dying from a bacterial infection is growing again because bacteria develop resistance to these antibiotics. 
"A world without effective antibiotics is the greatest threat to health care worldwide," Aasa Melhus, professor of Clinical Bacteriology at Uppsala University pointed out at the seminar in Brussels.
Antibiotics reduced mortality rates and prolonged life but no new antibiotics have been developed for the past 30 years.
"It is getting dangerous, because we can not offer the citizens anything more," professor Melhus said.
It is estimated the 60 percent of all infectious diseases stem from animals - but travelling is also contributing to infection and spread of bacteria.
"The only thing you have to do is to go abroad," said Aase Melhus.
She made a study in 2010 concluding that foreign travel is a major risk factor.
Samples from 100 healthy volunteers traveling outside Northern Europe, taken before and after their travel, showed that 50 percent returned with multi-resistant bacteria. 
The most risky country to travel appeared to be India, where 88 percent came back positive. 
"After six months 24 percent were still tested positive and as long as you are positive, you can spread it," professor Melhus explained.
"This is a global problem. Whatever happens in the world will in the end end up at your own doorstep," she said.

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