Saturday, August 9, 2008

Royal Hospital basically confirms the rumors on virus

This classic today in the outstanding Times of Oman, with a statement from Royal Hospital ... err... effectively confirming an outbreak of drug resistant bacteria (bug un-named, but presumably Acinetobacter). I haven't read all the rumors, so maybe there was the idea around that this was some unusual bug that could infect large numbers of healthy adults.

The issue, as I think Royal is trying to say, is that these sort of bugs are unfortunately around everywhere these days - especially hospitals and old folks homes, and predominantly infect really sick people (see previous post). They are not actually super-bugs, but just the same nasty bugs that have been around for ever who have become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to cure the disease. Its a case of welcome back to the 19th century folks.

The problem is the treatment for these resistant bugs, especially in people who are sick/immuno compromised anyway, is tricky. It usually needs some heavy and expensive antibiotic like intravenous vancomycin, which is more toxic than the synthetic penicillins. This can be a problem if you're already treating someone for kidney failure for example.

Occasionally it seems these bugs do kill healthy people.

A good reason to:
1/ avoid hospitals
2/ if you go, try not to touch anything. Wash your hands well and often.
3/ don't shake hands with doctors or nurses
4/ don't use the pens provided to you, use your own.
5/ don't take small children, or anyone with an open wound, old people, etc.
6/ avoid touching your face, nose, scratching etc.

Here's the confirmation statement.( No I didn't change the headline).
Times article
Royal Hospital denies rumours on virus spread
Wednesday, August 06, 2008 11:57:47 PM Oman Time
MUSCAT — Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi, senior consultant at the Royal Hospital, yesterday denied the rumours making the round about the spread of a fatal virus at the Royal Hospital.

He said the fact was that there was the presence of a type of bacteria, that is resistant to antibiotics which could be carried even by healthy people.

The presence of the bacteria in the Intensive Care Unit was due to the weak immune system of the patients transferred to the said unit for various medical reasons. Such patients, if infected, would be at risk compared to other patients, he added.

This type of bacteria could also be a factor leading to death, but not the main reason for death, he said. The presence of such bacteria is natural, whether in the Sultanate or in other countries, he said.

The medical teams at the hospital were ready to deal with any emergency and were working round the clock, he said, stressing the need for adhering to the hospital's instructions to the patients as well as visitors.

For those interested in more scientific information on the topic, here's a really nice paper on the problem with another (and more famous) super-bug - MRSA. All about how to treat outbreaks, what is means, etc etc.

POST-PRESS (thanks for the link Willie!): New Yorker - Superbugs story


  1. Oh Damn! And I have an appointment at the Royal hospital on Monday, and I am a renal patient.

    Many thanks to you Dragon.

  2. This risk is always around.

    Try to make sure whoever touches you has just washed their hands, wears fresh gloves, and doesn't touch something unclean (like a clip-board or a pen) before touching you! Don't be shy. They should be more aware of this than you are, and should not have an attitude about it.

    And make sure you also avoid touching stuff, and wash your hands!


  3. Superbugs. Well worth a read.

    Willie Dryer


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