Up to 5,000 people potentially exposed to antibiotic-resistant superbug in Irish hospitals
Thousands of people may have been exposed to a superbug in hospital, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.
The bug, CPE, is an antibiotic resistant bacteria that lives in the gut, where it is harmless, but can be fatal if it gets into the bloodstream.
"This is a superbug because it is very difficult to find an antibiotic that will actually kill it off and it creates other problems in the health system as well as having a huge mortality impact on patient's lives," Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients' Association told The Irish Examiner.
The 5,000 people who may have been exposed to the bug in Irish hospitals will be told about this in a letter in the coming weeks, the HSE said via a spokeswoman.
Those who are still in hospital who are identified to have been exposed to the superbug will be informed immediately.
Experts say that one in 20 of those who have come into contact with the superbug could become carriers.
Carriers have a one in 400 chance of becoming seriously ill with an infection, though there are antibiotics that can treat such infections.
The HSE estimates that there are fewer than 2,000 carriers of CPE in Ireland.
Last year, 433 new carriers of the superbug were identified in Ireland.