Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Doctors Frustrated over Acinetobacter Infections

All the healthcare professionals that I know are good hearted people with a great capacity for compassion and a desire to heal. Doctors are, at heart, 'fixers'. So you can understand the frustration infection control professionals feel when they run out of treatment options. Consider the plight of physicians dealing with drug resistant Acinetobacter, as referenced in this article fron the UK's Telegraph:

"Pandemic fear over resistant superbug

By Stephen Adams
Last Updated: 2:20am BST 02/04/2008

Doctors have warned that if a superbug which is known to be even more resistant to antibiotics than clostridium difficile and MRSA takes hold in hospitals, the country could face a pandemic.

The acinetobacter bug is being treated with older antibiotics because newer ones do not work. There are fears that injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have passed the infection on in civilian hospitals.

Prof Matthew Falagas, an expert in hospital-acquired infections, said: "In some cases, we have simply run out of treatments and we could be facing a pandemic with public health implications."

He warned delegates at the Society for General Microbiology conference in Edinburgh: "Doctors in many countries have gone back to using old antibiotics that were abandoned 20 years ago because their toxic side-effects were so frequent and so bad.

"But superbugs like acinetobacter have challenged doctors all over the world by becoming resistant to these older medicines.

"Even Colistin, an antibiotic discovered 60 years ago, has recently been used. But now it occasionally fails as the bacteria has become resistant."

There are more than 1,000 reports of acinetobacter infections every year in the UK, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Some strains can cause death through blood poisoning and pneumonia."

Acinetobacter is particularly difficult to remove from the environment of care because it is hearty and can survive for nearly a month in dry conditions. Healthcare providers will do their best to fight this bacterium, but turning back the clock to use older antibiotics is not a good long term strategy.

Because Acinetobacter has been proven to be transmitted via the air in several hospital studies, it is prudent to consider that the airborne route of transmission may play a role. While UVGI systems designed by VIGILAIR can help reduce environmental contamination, they are not a silver bullet. Like antibiotics, VIGILAIR is one part of a multi-faceted infection control strategy. VIGILAIR's strength lies in its ability to eliminate environmental reservoirs where microorganisms proliferate.

A VIGILAIR white paper on Acinetobacter is available here.

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