New superbug worries doctors

Doctors in Sweden are worried about the rising number of incidences of a new 'superbug'. The ESBL bacteria is spreading faster than better-known superbug MRSA.

“Every month we get twice as many reports of ESBL as MRSA,” said Dr Johan Struwe at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet).

The bacteria (full name Extended Spectrum Betalaktamases), which inhabits the intestine, is resistant to common antibiotics.

“This could mean that a urinary tract infection can no longer be cured with tablets, and injections will need to be used instead,” Struwe told Svenska Dagbladet.

Laboratories have been obliged to report incidences of ESBL since February 1st. Reports from the first six months have now been collated. By May, 448 people had been received; by August, the number of reports was up at 1,453. Reports have been received from every Swedish country.

“There is now justification for speaking of an epidemic,” said Struwe.

64 percent of those affected are women. The bacteria most commonly causes urinary tract infections, but the bacteria has also been linked to 50 cases of blood poisoning and one case of meningitis.