Five patients admitted to Dunedin Hospital have an antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The patients have screened positive for vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE). The bacteria is in or on their bodies but it has not made them sick because they do not have infections.
The Southern District Health Board says this is a rare occurrence and it is getting in touch with patients who have shared a room with the five people or who have been in contact with them. Information is also being sent to GPs.
"It is quite safe to come to Dunedin Hospital," says Southern DHB chief medical officer, Nigel Millar.
"Although VRE can be carried from patient to patient on the hands of healthcare workers, there is no concern or risk of staff or visitors being affected.
"The controls in place are designed to prevent spread between patients and we have confidence in these and the professionalism of our staff."
This is the first time that VRE has been identified in a Southern DHB patient. It has been an increasing problem in other DHBs in New Zealand and across the world in the past few years.
The DHB says the five cases are likely to be connected, but it has not identified how.