Potentially deadly superbug found in 17 hospitals
A potentially deadly 'superbug' - resistant to many antibiotics - was found in 17 hospitals in the first three months of the year, according to a new report.
The bug known as Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) has been responsible for a number of deaths here over the past year.
Hospitals affected included Tallaght, Galway, Waterford, St Luke's Kilkenny and Limerick.
It was isolated not just in the acute hospitals, but also in nursing homes and in GP surgeries, according to the disease watchdog, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
The report said 86 hospital inpatients had specimens of the bug. Some 13 outpatients were positive, a similar number in nursing homes were also positive, and five in GP surgeries were positive.
The majority of the patients were isolated, but five were discharged prior to the result of the laboratory test coming through.
Patients over the age of 56 accounted for three quarters of the specimens and the majority were men.
It recently emerged that Tallaght Hospital is facing a €6m cost to tackle the bug.
Reductions in the amount of funds spent on cleaning, which left staff with seven minutes to clean a bed, were blamed as contributory factors.
It was estimated that 2,000 people came into contact with the bug at the hospital since mid-2015.
It led to the cancellation of around 700 operations and restrictions on visitors.
Antibiotic resistance - in which bacteria evolve to fight off drugs - is seen as the biggest crisis facing modern medicine.
CRE is generally not a risk to healthy people, but poses a serious danger to patients whose immune systems are low.
Patients who are using catheters and ventilators or are taking antibiotics are at the highest risk of infection.
It is passed on by touch. There are only a few antibiotics that can kill off the infection.
It was recently announced that Health Minister Simon Harris and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed had got approval for Ireland's first National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2017-2020.
The overall goal is to ensure, for as long as possible, the availability of effective antibiotic treatment options for both humans and animals to treat infections, some of which can be lethal.
Ireland's use of these drugs continues to be high.