Qld Health downplay superbug fears

QUEENSLAND Health has downplayed fears a virulent antibiotic-resistant bug is loose in Bundaberg Hospital.

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger raised the issue in state parliament on Tuesday night after what he said was a tip-off by a medical professional at the hospital.

Mr Messenger said the medical professional, whom he did not name, had told him the antibiotic-resistant bug, Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE), had caused half of the hospital's medical ward to be isolated.

He said the workload on doctors and nurses at the hospital increased the possibility of cross-infection, with patients and the existence of VRE at the hospital.

“This is another reason why Bundaberg's old hospital must be replaced with a new hospital in a new location with double the budget, double the doctors, double the nurses and double the beds,” Mr Messenger said.

But Beth Norton, the Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District Northern Cluster manager, said VRE was common in all public and private hospitals worldwide.

Ms Norton said several patients at the hospital were found to be carrying VRE.

“Patients testing positive to VRE were carrying the enterococci in their bowel, but did not have an infection as such,” she said.

“As long as VRE does not enter the bloodstream, it will not make patients sick.”

She said staff made every effort to prevent the spread of VRE.

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