Three new strains of a superbug have been discovered in Victorian hospitals, leaving sicker patients at risk for life-threatening infections.
Researchers have found a multidrug-resistant bacterium in numerous hospitals in Victoria and around the world, with some strains in Europe resistant to all known antibiotics.
The research, published in Nature Microbiology on Tuesday, also showed that Staphylococcus epidermidis can infect people who are immunocompromised or who have implanted prosthetic materials, such as catheters and joint replacements.
Three new strains of a superbug have been discovered in Victorian hospitals, leaving sicker patients at risk for life-threatening infections. Staphylococcus epidermidis is up
The lead author, Dr. Jean Lee, says that the bacteria, found in the skin of all human beings, can enter the body in medical devices and form a mantle that protects it from antibiotics and the immune system.
"If we are not able to control the infection, because the bacteria does not respond to antibiotics, it can be life-threatening," Dr. Lee told AAP.
Dr. Lee, of the Doherty Institute, said that Staphylococcus epidermidis made a small change in its DNA that led to resistance to two main antibiotics.
"These two antibiotics are not related and a mutation is not expected to cause the failure of both antibiotics," he said.
The current guidelines for the treatment of infections use a combination of these two main antibiotics because they were thought to protect each other against the development of resistance.
Dr. Lee said the study showed that this assumption was incorrect and that current treatment recommendations should be reviewed.
Researchers have found a multi-drug resistant bacteria in numerous hospitals in Victoria and around the world, with some strains in Europe resistant to all known antibiotics (image file)
At this stage, it is not known how many people have been infected with the superbug and if there have been deaths, he said.
The researchers observed hundreds of isolates of Staphylococcus epidermidis from 78 institutions in 10 countries around the world before discovering the three strains resistant to almost all antibiotics.
"In the next stage, we have to go back and measure and determine the impact and start intervening," Dr. Lee said.