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Tuesday, 25 July 2006 08:16
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
NEW ALERT ON SUPERBUGS
According to new figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) cases of Clostridium difficile infection in patients aged 65 years and above increased by 17.2% in England over the last year, from 44,107 in 2004 to 51,690 in 2005.

C. difficile is a common hospital-acquired infection which usually causes diarrhoea but can lead to fevers or more serious infections.

Older people are particularly at risk, but the figures show that approximately around 13,000 cases were also recorded among younger patients.

Almost 30% of samples in 2005 were caused by C. difficile ribotype 027, which has previously been associated with major outbreaks.

The HPA said there were concerns that 027 was linked to increased severity of symptoms and increased rates among younger people.

The latest figures also show cases of MRSA in England fell by 2.5% to 3,517 in the six months ending March 2006.

Sir William Stewart, Chairman of the Agency, said:"This is the first time that the Health Protection Agency has published these figures together, and they provide a detailed picture of the challenge posed by healthcare associated infections. This data will play a vital role in helping hospitals measure their performance. Rates are not the same across the country. Some hospitals are doing an outstanding job, others have much to do".

Dr Georgia Duckworth, head of the Agency's HCAI Department, said:"Nationally the increase in C. difficile and limited decrease in MRSA cases indicate there is much work to be done, but today's figures show some encouraging signs. Individual trusts, such as the six who reported no MRSA blood poisoning cases at all and others with significant reductions in cases are leading the way in reducing healthcare-associated infection."

"The MRSA enhanced surveillance figures will be especially useful in identifying where the MRSA was acquired, allowing a more targeted approach to control. These figures will help us further understand the problem and show how we can best tackle the disease."

"It is also important to remember that not all healthcare-associated infections are preventable. Some of these infections are the price we pay for advances in medicine which allow patients to survive who would have been unlikely to survive their illness a few years ago”.


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Tuesday, 20 June 2006 08:54
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
BUG-BUSTING SQUADS TO WIPE OUT MRSA ON THE WARDS
Britain's largest union Unison are to pilot a six-month trial that will start at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital. The union intends to send in their own hospital cleaners in a bid to try to beat the superbug MRSA.

The hospital cleaners will target lockers, bed frames, buzzers and portable telephones - places where patients are more likely to pick up the infection.

Microbiologist Stephanie Dancer, who will lead the team, believes her action plan will show superbugs can be eliminated without massive cost. She said yesterday the six-month controlled study will provide "clear proof" that MRSA can be beaten.

Dr Dancer said: "Unison have given me the chance to find the proof we need to show that proper and clever cleaning can have an impact.

"I believe this system combined with an extra cleaning lady for eight hours a day will beat MRSA and it won't break the bank”.


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Saturday, 03 June 2006 10:56
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
NURSES CALL FOR BETTER FACILITIES
Scottish nurses have warned ministers that having to change in toilets and wash their own uniforms is increasing the risk of passing deadly infections on to patients.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said a lack of changing facilities and laundry services in Scottish hospitals was hampering the fight against superbugs such as MRSA, and called on the Executive to ensure all employers provide suitable changing and laundry facilities.

RCN research shows that almost a third of nurses (32 per cent) did not have access to changing facilities at work and have to change in toilets or wear their uniforms to work.

Forty four per cent did not have access to showering facilities at work, while 34 per cent did not have a locker for belongings. Fifty eight per cent did not have access to a laundering service.

Jane McCready, board chairwoman of RCN Scotland, said: "It's common sense that healthcare staff should have a separate uniform for every shift they work. But we know that this often isn't the case and the implications for infection control are obvious.

"Healthcare staff need to be given the resources and facilities to tackle healthcare associated infections effectively.

"The results of this research show that nurses are being hampered in those efforts when it comes to safe practice around uniforms."

Margaret Davidson, chief executive of the Scotland Patients Association, said all nurses should have access to proper changing facilities.

"Nurses shouldn't have to travel in their uniforms because they could pick up cross-infections. They must have the facilities to get changed in a safe and clean environment at work so they are in a proper state to be near patients."

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "We recommend that changing facilities be provided for NHS staff to encourage them to change out of a uniform while still in the workplace."


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Thursday, 18 May 2006 12:01
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
NEW ANTIBIOTIC COULD FIGHT SUPERBUGS
Scientists have discovered a new antibiotic which is effective in fighting drug-resistant hospital superbugs.

Platensimycin is in the early stages of development but could potentially prove invaluable in the fight against bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Enterococcus, resistant to even the most powerful modern antibiotics such as vancomycin.

Most antibiotics were discovered in the 1940s and 50s and work by disrupting the formation of a bacterium’s walls, proteins or DNA, so that it cannot reproduce and spread.

But DNA mutations can make bacteria immune to the effects of drugs and, as the use of antibiotics has risen in the past few decades, so has the number of pathogenic bacteria that have developed resistance to them.

"It is believed that the widespread drug resistance among bacterial pathogens is due to the limited choice of antibiotics," wrote Eric Brown of McMaster University in Canada in an accompanying article.

The new antibiotic, a molecule produced by Streptomyces platensis, a fungus-like bacterium, works in a different way to previous antibiotics, inhibiting an enzyme called FabF which is used in the formation of fatty acids in bacterial cells.

Dr Brown said platensimycinhad an “extraordinary” way of working, although it is not the first anti-bacterial compound to attack the formation of fatty acids.

An experiment on mice infected with Staphylococcus aureus showed that the new drug cleared the bacteria with no harmful side effects. Despite this, it will be at least ten years before it becomes available in pharmacies.

"The path ahead remains a long one that includes further preclinical study and, if these studies are successful, extensive clinical trials for safety and efficacy in humans," said Dr Brown. "Platensimycin is nevertheless the most potent inhibitor reported so far for FabF."


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Saturday, 22 April 2006 09:31
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
HANDWASH KILLS MRSA AND BIRD FLU
The bird flu virus can be killed with a £2.99 hand cleanser that is available on the High Street, scientists claim.

Tests have shown that No-Germs which is made in the UK by Advanced Formulations can eradicate 99.8 per cent of the H5N1 strain in around 30 seconds.

The pump-pack spray has been on sale in pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores for over a year.

Because it is used without water, there is no need for rinsing. And unlike similar products it is alcohol free, which is thought to make it more effective.

Originally No-Germs was developed to fight MRSA infection, one of the most prevalent superbugs in the Health Service.

Experts now believe it can help stop bird flu spreading, and reduce the likelihood of the virus mutating.

The tests at Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London indicated that No-Germs significantly cuts the risk of 'indirect transmission'.

This happens when a virus is picked up from a surface such as a railing or door handle and transferred to the face.

Around 80 per cent of all common viral and bacterial infections are spread in this way, by hand-to-mouth and nose-to-eye contact. On average, people touch their faces every five minutes.

Dr Robert Lambkin, the managing director of Retroscreen said other routes of transmission, by coughing or sneezing, remain significant in the fight against bird flu.

"But much of the problem can be contained by making sure that we don't get infected through contact with surfaces such as door handles," he added.

At present, H5N1 can only be caught through direct contact with infected birds.

But Dr Lambkin said: "If the virus did cross the species barrier, healthcare workers, research scientists and the general public would benefit from a hand wash against the H5N1 virus to prevent indirect transmission of the virus”.


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Tuesday, 21 February 2006 10:04
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
DOCTORS TOLD TO ABANDON COATS AND TIES IN SUPERBUG FIGHT
A report by the British Medical Association has recommended that doctors stop wearing ties and white coats in order to combat the spread of superbugs such as MRSA.

In the report on avoiding healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs), the British Medical Association advised doctors and nurses to abandon neckwear, coats and any other "functionless" clothes in favour of freshly laundered, simple outfits.

Ties and white coats are a specific problem because they often go unwashed for long periods and come into regular contact with wounds, passing infections.

The BMA report also emphasised the importance of basic hygiene such as regular hand-washing and clean equipment.

HCAIs including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) contribute to the death of up to 5,000 people in the UK every year.

These so-called ‘superbugs’ cost the NHS up to £1 billion per year. A 15 per cent reduction in the incidence of HCAIs would free up around £150 million every year for other NHS resources.

To avoid such infections, which thrive in the stomach after bacteria have been killed off, doctors are also advised to avoid giving antibiotics to the “worried well”.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA’s Head of Ethics and Science, said: “It is unlikely that any health service will ever be completely free of HCAIs but there is a lot more that doctors, nurses, cleaners, patients and their visitors could be doing to reduce infections spreading – the fact is around 15 to 30 per cent of HCAIs are preventable.

“A lot of the solutions like hand-washing may sound simple. While strict guidelines are in place about how health professionals need to wash their hands there are barriers to compliance.

“One of the major barriers to doctors following these guidelines is time and the pressure to treat patients and meet targets. Another can be the layout of clinical areas and access to washing facilities.”

She added: “Patients have a role to play too. There is no point demanding antibiotics for a cold, they won’t help you but they will help create ‘superbugs’ ".


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Saturday, 18 February 2006 10:09
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
MOBILE PHONES CARRY HOSPITAL SUPERBUGS
Researchers at Craigavon Area Hospital in Northern Ireland have found that mobile phones are cultivating the deadly superbugs causing havoc in Britain's hospitals.

The researchers took swabs from 105 mobile phones used by doctors and nurses. They found most of the phones were contaminated with bacteria and 15 were harbouring a strain known to cause serious infection.

Researcher Dr Richard Brady said the contamination of mobile phones risked spreading bacteria despite new measures to increase hand-washing in hospitals.

He said: "We recognise mobile phones are going to be used more and more in health care settings and we are a little bit worried that the bacteria found on mobile phones could be a problem with hand hygiene”.
   


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Sunday, 22 January 2006 10:31
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
DIRT 'MAY HOLD CLUE'
Canadian scientists suggest that by studying bacteria in the soil may provide key clues to understanding how so-called superbugs develop resistance to antibiotics.

The scientists tested 480 different soil bacteria and found every single one had some resistance to major classes of antibiotics.

The findings, in the journal Science, suggest that bacteria have long been skilled at foiling their foes. They may also explain how resistance is developed so quickly to new drugs.

Lead researcher Professor Gerry Wright, of McMaster University in Ontario, said his team's work could help understand better how resistance develops - and aid the development of new, more effective drugs.

Professor Wright said: "The link between clinical and soil-associated resistance to vancomycin illustrates the value of studying resistance in the soil to rationally anticipate future clinical resistance.

"It suggests that the soil serves as an under-recognized source of resistance, resistance that has the potential to reach clinics”.

Dr Bhagirath Singh, scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Infection and Immunity, said: "Dr Wright's discovery points to the fact that in nature, bugs in the soil survive in a very hostile environment.

"They do this by developing resistance to the antibiotics produced by other soil bacteria.

"Understanding this process opens up a new avenue for finding new therapies to prevent and treat antibiotic resistance in a clinical setting."

Dr Alan Johnson, an expert on antibiotic resistance at the Health Protection Agency, said the study highlighted the importance of studying soil bacteria for clues to how resistance to drugs begins.

"While bacteria causing infections in humans have been exposed to antibiotics for only about 60 years, bacteria in soil will have been exposed to antibiotics for very much longer.

"Evolution of soil bacteria over this longer time period is likely to explain the greater number of ways in which they have become resistant”.


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