Medical authorities in Belgium have been quick to reassure the public that a common bacterium which affects hospital patients while showing resistance to the usual gamut of treatments is under control by common measures such as staff hygiene and preventive measures. According to a study carried out in Australia, which included data provided by Erasmus hospital in Brussels, one in seven patients falls victim to the multi-resistance bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis. However unlike other bacterial infections encountered in the hospital environment, S. epidermidis is resistant to the usual run of antibiotics, which makes it more difficult to treat, while at the same time having the opportunity to run free among a group of people whose immune systems are likely to be largely compromised in the first place.
According to Paul d’Otreppe, director of the association of Belgian hospital directors, doctors in Belgian hospitals are well aware of the existence of S. epidermidis. “This problem of multi-resistance bacteria is at the forefront of the concerns of all hospital directors,” he said. “This is not anything new, and not something we can’t deal with.”
However, he did admit the problem was increasing. Hospital reorganisation meant patients of similar pathologies were being grouped together, increasing the risk of cross-infection. On the other hand, he said, hospitals were investing more and more in matters of hygiene, while research was also playing its part in helping tackle the issue.