A HOSPITAL bug that has killed thousands of people overseas has been found for the first time in Australia.
The highly infectious and potentially deadly strain of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has been found in three patients at Melbourne’s Epworth Hospital. The hypervirulent strain of the bug has killed thousands of people in Britain, North America and Europe in the last decade, but until now has not been found in Australia. Epworth Hospital executive medical director Megan Robertson said a hospital specialist initially suspected an elderly patient might have the hypervirulent strain of the bug in February.
The hospital then sought extraordinary testing to confirm the bug and informed the Victorian Department of Health. Three Epworth patients have now been found to have the hypervirulent strain of CDI. “We have had three confirmed cases of the hypervirulent strain and two of these patients have recovered and been discharged,” Dr Robertson said in a statement.
“The other patient is still being treated for an illness not related to this infection. It is not known whether these three cases are linked because the prevalence of this strain in the wider Australian community is unknown, due to lack of testing.” Epworth has reviewed its infection control procedures in response to the bug. Dr Robertson said the normal strain of CDI was a common infection for patients in hospitals and nursing homes and caused diarrhoea following a course of antibiotics.
However the hypervirulent strain causes increased frequency, severity and relapse of infection.