Superbug infects National Burns Centre patients

  • 07/02/2018
Three people have become infected with the bug.
Three people have become infected with the bug. Photo credit: iStock

There are concerns more of the country's most vulnerable burns victims might be infected with a bug resistant to multiple drugs.

The National Burns Centre (NBC) at Middlemore has been forced to limit its patients, after three people became infected with the bug.

On 10 December 2017 one case of carbapenem-resistant organisms (CRO) was identified at the centre, most likely acquired from overseas. On 9 January 2018 another patient in the burns/ICU care complex was found to be infected with the same organism, and a third patient identified on Saturday, 3 February.

Carbapenems are a powerful group of antibiotics often relied on for infections where treatment with other antibiotics have failed.

Counties Manukau DHB's acting chief medical officer, Dr Vanessa Thornton, says the multi-drug resistant organism is more of a risk to vulnerable burns victims.

"Whilst this is not a concern for most of our patients or the visiting public, CROs can have serious implications for patients such as burns patients and we are taking all the necessary steps to ensure these cases are contained, managed and eliminated before they spread further," she says.

"All three infected patients are in isolation and one theatre has been reserved for their exclusive use. Restricting the transfer of patients to the burns/ICU is a crucial step in eradicating these organisms."

Dr Thornton says regional burns centres will take on extra patients.

"We are asking that patients be held in other burns centres until we are confident the risk is contained at the NBC," she says.

"We are also considering options for transferring very serious burns cases, which would normally be treated at Counties Manukau Health, to locations in Australia. This would be on a case-by-case basis."