- GLASGOW, Scotland (Reuters)
- Two patients in a Scottish hospital have become the first in Britain
to contract a so-called ``superbug,'' resistant to nearly all known antibiotics,
hospital officials said on Friday.
- Two elderly patients at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary tested
positive for a bacterial strain of the common hospital-based ``staph''
infection that is partly resistant to vancomycin, the antibiotic often
used as a last resort.
- "This is the first time we have identified this
in Britain,'' Simon Barber, a spokesman for the Public Health Laboratory
Service in London, told Reuters.
- "This is a serious situation because what it means
is that in some situations the range of antibiotics available for treatment
is going to be reduced,'' he added.
- Doctors around the world have found thousands of cases
where ordinary staph infections -- or staphylococcus aureus -- have developed
into a strain called MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staph a. They are then
normally treated with vancomycin.
- Some newer strains found in the United States and elsewhere
have even shown signs of resistance to vancomycin. These are what Barber
called VISA -- or Vancomycin Intermediate-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.
- "The strain is not wholly resistant to drugs, but
shows signs of developing total resistance,'' Barber said.
- One of the patients in Glasgow was reported to have been
placed in isolation at the hospital, but the other was being monitored
at home. Barber said neither patient actually got infected by the bacteria,
but were detected with it during routine testing.
- "I think it's very important the public realise
that this is not a superbug that is a killer bug,'' John Hood, consultant
bacteriologist at the Glasgow hospital, told the BBC.
- "This particular strain ...it hasn't killed anybody
so far. It's not spreading like wildfire, in fact it hasn't spread to anybody,''
- But the longer term concerns are serious.
- ``These are bugs which are resistant to many or all the
antibiotics. They are driving us back to the pre-antibiotic era,'' Dr Hugh
Pennington at Aberdeen University told the BBC.
- The problem stems from rampant use of antibiotics, experts
say. During a single human generation of 25 years, bacteria go through
100,000 generations, according to the experts.
- The U.S. Center for Disease Control has said the problem
is "urgent'' and
- estimates some 50 million unnecessary prescriptions are
written for antibiotics each year in the United States.
- U.S. doctors estimate as many as 70 percent of the bacteria
in infections that people get in hospital now are resistant to at least