November 10, 2008

Hospital ‘Superbugs’ in Canada on the Rise

Resistant bacterial infections, or "superbugs," have increased dramatically in Canada's acute care hospitals, researchers said.

Epidemiologist Dr. Dick Zoutman and research associate Doug Ford said that although infection control has been substantially ramped up in Canadian hospitals since the severe acute respiratory syndrome crisis of 2003, resistant bacterial infections post-SARS are multiplying even faster.

The Queen's University study is a six-year follow-up to a study that was undertaken in

1999, prior to the outbreak of SARS.

The study, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, found effects to combat the problem have increased significantly -- particularly in Ontario and Quebec -- but the number of hospital-acquired infections has risen even faster.

"The combination of more infection control practitioners and activity, but also more bugs, hasn't taken us where we want to be," Zoutman, director of Infection Prevention and Control at Kingston General Hospital, said in a statement.

Since the first survey was conducted, the rates of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, have more than doubled across Canada, from 2.0 to 5.2 per 1,000 hospital admissions. Another deadly bacterium, Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, or VRE, was found in 77 percent more hospitals in the 2005 survey than in 1999, the study said.