SINGAPORE : The Singapore General Hospital has imposed strict infection control practices following an outbreak of the vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) bacteria among some of its patients.
14 of them have been found to be carriers of the bacteria which have become resistant to an antibiotic called vancomycin.
Another patient was infected.
Vancomycin is used for treating serious infections, which means the drugs are no longer effective against them, making it harder to treat infection.
To contain the spread, SGH has reinforced existing control practices.
This includes mandatory handwashing in between patients and stricter compliance of the two-visitor rule in the hospital.
Patients in affected wards are also been screened for VRE.
SGH has given the assurance that unlike Avian Flu or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), VRE is not spread by respiratory droplets or the airborne route.
It is transmitted via physical contact and treatment is available.
It also does not cause disease in healthy persons and therefore, does not pose a public health risk to people living in the community.
VRE was first reported in the USA in the late 1980s and is now a major hospital-acquired infection in US hospitals.
It is less common in Singapore with sporadic cases reported in some hospitals here since the late 1990s.
Patients can either be infected, for example, in their wounds, urinary tract or blood, or colonised without showing any symptoms.
There was a small cluster of six cases in SGH last year and that was brought under control through infection control measures.
SGH says most of the current batch of cases were detected through routine screening of the patients' stools. - CNA