Cyprus Mail

Study shows high levels of infections and antibiotic use

By Poly Pantelides

BLOODSTREAM infections were highest in Cyprus during a recent Europe wide survey aimed at tracking Europe’s defences against infectious disease.

On the island, bloodstream infections stood at 19 per cent, but E. coli – one of the three most common microorganisms in most countries – was rare in Cyprus which had the lowest observed percentage at 3.9 per cent compared with 26.6 per cent in France.

Overall, the survey confirmed that healthcare-associated infections are a major public health problem, amounting to one in 18 patients in a European hospital, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said. In intensive care units, the figure stands at 19.5 per cent. Meanwhile, one in three patients is estimated to receive at least one antimicrobial agent a day, the report said.

In Cyprus, eight hospitals participated between September 2011 and November 2011 mostly tracking infections appearing two days after admission or after a patient was discharged from acute care. Some 1,037 patients in Cyprus were part of the survey.

A total of 947 hospitals and 231,459 patients across 30 countries were included in the final sample of a survey. The report looks at healthcare-associated infections acquired as a result of healthcare interventions in hospitals as well as hospital use of antimicrobials, such as antibiotics and antifungal medicines used to treat infections.

Cyprus consistently ranks high in EU tables on antibiotics consumption, resulting in one of the highest rates of multi-drug resistant infections.

Over 60 per cent of staphylococcus aureus infection cases were methicillin-resistant (MRSA), making them hard to treat, the ECDC survey said in the case of Cyprus. MRSA isolates were not reported in Norway and the Netherlands. In general, a high percentage of hospital-acquired infections are caused by highly resistant bacteria such as MRSA, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In Cyprus, the percentage of antimicrobials prescribed to treat infections originating outside hospital stood at 24.6 per cent, the lowest recorded percentage with the highest percentage in Latvia standing at 68.4 per cent. For surgeries, Cyprus ranked high in antimicrobial use at 33.1 per cent, compared with 4.6 per cent in Wales. Romania stood at 42 per cent, the highest recorded percentage. Preventative use of antimicrobials was also high at 22.4 per cent in Cyprus, with Italy topping the table with 23.8 per cent and Sweden lying at the opposite end of the spectrum with 1.0 per cent.

The ECDC said, “antimicrobial use measured on a single day does not necessarily reflect total yearly antimicrobial consumption”.

WHO has flagged health care-associated infections as a major cause of avoidable harm and unnecessary death in hospitals. Overcrowding, poor hygiene and a lack of co-ordinated policy can increase the risk of infection, while infections caused by microorganisms that are resistant to antimicrobials also play a major role in controlling infections, the WHO has said.

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