The new chief executive of the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service has called for co-ordinated guidelines for local health professionals prescribing some antibiotics to combat a deadly superbug.
Adrian Pennington’s call comes in the wake of alarming comments by two leading Australian infectious disease experts who both say they are “scared” about the potential for a serious outbreak of a deadly strain of the Clostridium difficile, or C Diff, a stomach bug that has killed thousands of people in the northern hemisphere, and is now growing in Australia.
Mr Pennington says there are quite a few strains of C Diff, some are “nasty”, and some are “harmless”.
“When it’s bad, it’s nasty,” he said.
“We need to make sure all local pharmacists, doctors and hospitals have guidelines for prescribing antibiotics.
“Anyone who comes into the hospital with stomach problems should be screened for this.”
Professor of infectious disease research at the University of Queensland Archie Clements said unnecessary use of some new powerful antibiotics, both in our health care systems, and in the animals we eat, is increasing our risk to becoming infected by the deadly bug.
“It’s a major worry,” Prof Clements said.
“Using too many modern powerful antibiotics is putting us at devastating risk.
“It’s a nasty disease and it seems to be increasing in Queensland.”
Prof Clements said there were many different strains, but some could result in serious inflammation of the colon.
“In some cases the organ dies and you follow. It has a high fatality rate,” he said.
“Governments need to be investing in finding and counting cases, and in cleaning hospitals.
“They are definitely reducing investment in preventive healthcare, including surveillance of bugs like these, just at the time C Diff cases are growing here.
“We need to be doing much more to control the use of modern antibiotics in the animals we eat.”
A professor of microbiology at the University of Western Australia and an expert in C Diff, Thomas Riley, was reported saying this week his lab had seen a dramatic increase in a super bug strain known as 244.
“I’m really scared about this. I think we are heading for a very dark time.”