16 Mar 2009

Superbug takes hold in community

2:17 pm on 16 March 2009

A sharp rise has been recorded in the number of people suffering from a form of antibiotic-resistant superbug.

Last year there were 420 cases of infection with USA300, a strain of the superbug MRSA, compared with just 12 cases in 2004. The bug causes boil-like infections.

While MRSA is usually hospital based, this strain is found in the community, spread between men who go to saunas and sometimes within sports teams.

The Green Party is calling for the urgent creation of a national infectious disease surveillance system to monitor superbugs. It says funding was secured nearly a year ago, but there is still no system in place.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says he is considering how the money will be spent.