Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria - How to reduce your risks

Image of antibiotic resistant bacteria

At Midtown Medical Clinic we are well aware of the recent media alerts regarding the emerging global antibiotic resistant bacteria requiring heightened infection control measures.

The Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Finn Romanes said Victorian Hospitals should strictly enforce Australian Guidelines on managing the antibiotic resistant bacteria known as Carbapenem resistant Enterobaceriasceae (CRE).

Laboratory results indicate CRE is increasing in Victoria, predominantly driven by increased number of a particular type of CRE known as Klebsiella pneumoniaecarbopenemase-producing bacteria (KPC).

"All Victoria health services have been provided with information from the Department of Health and Human Services emphasising the need to ensure all current national standards are in place and being strictly followed", Dr Romanes said.

KPC can be present in the bowels of a patient without causing clinical disease - known as colonisation.  Some of these patients may develop infection such as urinary tract or blood stream infections.

Since 2012 KCP infection or colonisation has been identified in 57 patients in Victoria.  This equates to around 19 patients per year.

"Transmission of KPC between patients has resulted in a cluster of cases in Victoria, centered at St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne", Dr Romanes said.

So far this year there have been three patients infected with KPC at St Vincent's. 

St Vincent's Consultant in Infectious Diseases Associate Professor Kumar Visvanathan said the hospital had enhanced its infection control measures and screening procedures - especially in relation to patients having been hospitalised overseas.

Dr Romanes said all health services should ensure suspected cases were isolated, with samples to be tested by a specialist public health laboratory.

Hospitals have also been advised to introduce new interim screening requirements, particularly for patients who have recently received medical care overseas.

"We are taking significant action to protect public health by asking all hospitals to introduce heightened infection control and prevention measures, to ensure these highly antibiotic resistant bacteria are not spread," Dr Romanis said.

Midtown Medical Clinic wishes to assure all patients that we will continue to abide by our very strict Infection Control guidelines to minimise infection risk.    Antibiotic resistant bacteria can be passed from person to person in the community.  Ways in which we can prevent the transmission of all organisms, including antibiotic resistant bacteria are:

  • wash hands before and after food handling, going to the toilet and changing nappies
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing
  • use tissues to blow or wipe your nose
  • dispose of tissues properly, either in the rubbish or toilet
  • do not spit
  • stay at home if you are unwell and cannot manage your normal requirements of the day
  • do not send children to child care, creche or school if they are unwell
  • if you are prescribed antibiotics, take the entire course - do not stop because you are feeling better
  • if you continue to feel unwell, return to see your doctor
  • avoid use of products that advertise they contain antibiotics, or are antibacertial or antimicrobial, unless advised to do so by your doctor

The goal is also to prevent the further development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, not just prevent the spread of those that exist.  In General Practices in Australia, many antibiotics are prescribed for upper respiratory infections such as colds and flus.  Such illnesses are mosting caused by viruses and usually do not require treatment with antibiotics.  Taking antibiotics will not affect the duration of a viral illness, and may bring about antibiotic resistance, even after a short course.  The Doctors at Midtown Medical Clinic will only ever prescribe antibiotics when absolutely necessary, based on their professional judgement of your individual case.  If you are unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics, this may allow resistant bacteria to develop in your system, limiting the efficacy of antibiotics at a time of need in the future. Unnecessary use of antibiotics will therefore be putting not only yourself at potential risk in the future, but also increasing drug resistance in the community.

Things to remember:

  • antibiotic resistance is a serious public health problem
  • some bacteria that are capable of causing serious disease are becoming resistant to most commonly available antibiotics
  • antibiotic resistant bacteria can spread form person to person in the community and from patient to patient in hospital
  • careful infection control procedures will minimise spread of these bacteria in hospitals
  • good personal hygiene will minimise the spread of these bacteria in the community
  • careful prescribing of antibiotics will minimise the development of more antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

Click here for or more information regarding antibiotic resistant bacteria.

If you have any queries at all about this issue, please do not hesitate to contact us at Midtown Medical Clinic on 9650 4284.