Fifty Stockholm heart patients hit by superbug

A potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria has spread to more than 50 heart patients at Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, Stockholm.

Fifty Stockholm heart patients hit by superbug
Staff check air quality in an operating theatre at Karolinska University Hospital. Photo: Gary Fabbri

Four of the 52 patients affected have died, and the hospital believes an antibiotic-resistant strain of the Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria was the cause of death in at least one case. 

The outbreak was discovered this spring but is believed to have begun in the autumn. All of the patients affected had undergone open heart surgery at the Thorax Clinic in Solna. 

“We have put in place a range of measures and hope now to have stopped the spread, since we haven’t seen any new cases for two to three weeks,” chief physician Elda Sparrelid told news agency TT. 

The hospital has not yet fully ascertained whether the patients died as a result of the outbreak. 

“It’s not so easy to conclude as these are patients who were very sick for different reasons, but we do have strong suspicions in at least one case,” she said. 

The strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae at Karolinska contains ESBL, an enzyme that can break down antibiotics. 

Most of the patients affected have carried the bacteria without suffering unduly, since the bacteria itself does not generally make people sick. If however they need any treatment requiring antibiotics doctors could find that these no longer work. 

The hospital has tightened its hygiene procedures since discovering the outbreak earlier this year. 

But Elda Sparrelid said staff had not followed all procedures correctly, adding that the hospital was also introducing new routines.  

“This relates to everything from staff compliance to the procedures we have for clothing, equipment, keyboards and the cleaning of instruments – everything we have been able to identify. In all we have put in place around 100 measures,” she said. 

The hospital has reported the outbreak to the Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO).


These are Sweden’s 13 best universities according to a new ranking

Three Swedish universities have made the top 100 in a prestigious global ranking – with 13 Swedish universities in the top 1000s.

These are Sweden's 13 best universities according to a new ranking
The Karolinska Institute was Sweden's top university in the ranking. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Harvard University in the US again placed first in the table of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU – also often referred to as the Shanghai Ranking).

But Sweden's performance was not too shabby, with the Karolinska Institute, Uppsala University and Stockholm University in the top 100s, and 13 universities in the top 1000s.

Sweden's medical school Karolinska Institute climbed to 38th place in the ranking, up from 44th last year.

It was followed by Uppsala in 62nd place and Stockholm as number 73, who both also improved their performance on last year.

Its Danish neighbours got the highest spot out of the Nordic countries, with University of Copenhagen in 26th place. But Sweden had the most universities listed compared to Denmark's and Norway's six each, Finland's eight and Iceland's one nod in the ranking.

The rest of the Swedish seats were Lund University (in a shared 101-150th spot), University of Gothenburg (151-200), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (201-300), Chalmers University of Technology (301-400), Linköping University (301-400), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (301-400), Stockholm School of Economics (401-500), Umeå University (401-500), Örebro University (801-900) and Luleå University of Technology (901-1000).

Among the six indicators used to rank the universities were the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, the number of highly cited researchers, and the number of articles cited in journals of nature and science