17 December 2010
Health Testing Finds New Bacteria Strain
New testing methods have identified evidence of a new strain of the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C difficile) previously unidentified in NSW.
A NSW Health spokesperson said samples from 21 patients tested positive for the new strain of C difficile,known as 027. No other cases have been reported in NSW to date.
The patients affected were in hospital at various times for treatment of other conditions but our new testing picked up evidence of the 027 strain of C difficile.
The 027 strain of C. difficile, while common in North America and Europe since 2003, was identified in Australia earlier this year.
C. difficile is a bacteria present naturally in the gut of many healthy children under the age of two years and some adults without suffering any ill effects.
Currently NSW hospitals have been advised to ensure routine testing of patients with symptoms suggestive of C.difficile.
Symptoms of C. difficile infection include mild to severe diarrhoea, fever and stomach pains. To reduce risk of getting this infection normal hygiene practices are encouraged.
Regardless of the strain of C.difficile precautions adopted and recommended treatment is the same.
The identified patients, who received treatment at Manly, Mona Vale, Royal North Shore, and Greenwich Hospitals have been or are being contacted.
Of the 21 patients there are 2 currently in hospital receiving treatment for conditions unrelated to C.difficile.
The discovery of the strain would not have altered the treatment the patients received from the hospitals or from their general practitioners.
Those who have serious illnesses or have conditions that require prolonged use of antibiotics and the elderly can be at greater risk of C.Difficile diarrhoea.
Clinicians are examining each case to determine how these patients may have come into contact with this strain.
For a range of health information, go online to www.health.nsw.gov.au