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P.E.I. sees two cases of antibiotic-resistant bug in 2018

Bacteria can carry multiple antibiotic-resistance genes that can make infection very hard to treat.
Bacteria can carry multiple antibiotic-resistance genes that can make infection very hard to treat. - 123RF Stock Photo

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria that some have labelled a “superbug” affected two patients in P.E.I. last year.

Health P.E.I. and the province’s chief public health office confirmed to The Guardian that two cases of Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) were found in the province in 2018.

A spokesperson said CRE is regular bacteria that everyone carries in their bowels, with “one large exception”. The bacteria also carry multiple antibiotic-resistance genes that can make infection very hard to treat.

"Antibiotic resistant organisms, including MRSA and CRE, are all examples of organisms that are managed with heightened infection control precautions in the hospital setting,” said a spokesperson from Health P.E.I.

The non-profit Mayo Clinic says that anti-biotic resistant bacteria are often called “superbugs” and can cause infections of the lungs (pneumonia), urinary tract and skin. The clinic says CRE superbugs have the ability to spread and share their antibiotic-resistant qualities with healthy bacteria in the body.

“When an infection happens, it is difficult, if not impossible, to treat effectively,” says the clinic’s information page on CRE.

Tuberculosis returns to P.E.I.

  • After a year that saw no cases of tuberculosis in P.E.I., the disease returned to the province in 2018.
  • P.E.I. saw one case of tuberculosis in 2018.
  • A spokesperson for Health P.E.I. and the province’s chief public health office said in recent years the number of active tuberculosis cases in P.E.I. has ranged between one to four per year.
  • “Once a case is confirmed, case contacts are investigated, tested and treated, if needed,” said the spokesperson.
  • While there were no cases of the disease in 2017, there were four cases in 2016.
  • From 1991 to 2011, about 38 cases of tuberculosis were found in the province, which would average to just under two per year.
  • Tuberculosis is caused by a type of bacteria that mainly infects the lungs and airways and can be spread from person-to-person.
  • About 90 per cent of people who become infected with TB bacteria never develop the disease. That is called latent tuberculosis (LTBI) and those infected with it have no symptoms and cannot spread TB to others.

The Patient Safety Institute of Canada says, generally speaking, the sicker the patient, the more likely he or she is to develop an infection.

“In the ranking of antibiotic-resistant organisms by impact, CRE are near the top of the list – not just because these organisms are highly resistant, but because they cause serious infections and spread quickly,” says the institute, which expects all Canadian organizations to see

The Mayo Clinic states that preventing the spread of CRE and other antibiotic-resistant infections begins with good hand-washing and that it’s also important to avoid overusing and misusing antibiotics. Health-care facilities are encouraged to have proper infection control precautions in place when CRE is identified.

Health P.E.I. said it has immunization and screening programs in place for staff that follow national standards, as well as processes to support staff after suspected or confirmed exposure to any communicable disease.

“It is important that we ensure staff, patients and the public are protected when we work so intimately with individuals who require treatment for communicable diseases,” said the spokesperson.

Health P.E.I.’s infection prevention and control team and infectious disease consultant also work closely with the chief public health office to ensure all appropriate precautions and cares are followed and carried out safely for patients with a communicable disease, said the spokesperson.

All cases of communicable diseases are reportable to the chief public health officer.

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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