|The Spread of C. difficile infection in Europe|
Hospital ‘superbugs’, such as MRSA (Methicillin - Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and Clostridium difficile, have become a major problem over the past few years - causing thousands of deaths worldwide. ‘Superbugs’ are types of bacteria which have mutated to become resistant to normal antibiotics. Precise figures on deaths in Ireland are hard to obtain, but about 25,000 people pick up MRSA infections in Irish hospitals each year, and those who do are seven times more likely to die (Irish Times, April 21st 2010). In the UK, between 2004 and 2008, C. difficile was involved in 1 death per 1000, and MRSA in 3 deaths per thousand. Recent data shows that C. difficile is set to overtake MRSA as the major ‘superbug’ killer in our hospitals, and is now the fastest spreading hospital-acquired illness in Europe. The very young, the elderly, the seriously ill and those recovering from major surgery, are particularly at risk.