21 Feb 2009

Increase in superbug infections, say Greens

6:15 am on 21 February 2009

The Green Party has released figures showing a big increase in infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant superbug, vancomycin resistant enterococci.

Figures from the Ministry of Health obtained by the Green Party show rates of vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) increased from a single case in 2003 to 154 cases last year.

Green MP Sue Kedgley says the figures also revealed a 43% increase in another superbug, MRSA.

Ms Kedgley says if New Zealand does not move quickly it will be confronted with untreatable illnesses.

She says the country needs better monitoring, better infection control and reduced use of antibiotics in humans and animals.

Ms Kedgley also wants a national surveillance programme for antibiotic resistance.

The Ministry of Health says the Institute of Environmental Science and Research is already responsible for national surveillance of antibiotic resistance.

The Ministry says the major increase of VRE was because of a specific outbreak in Auckland hospitals.