'Most ICU patients infected with superbugs face death'

PETALING JAYA - One third to half of intensive care unit (ICU) patients infected with superbugs face death due to antibiotics resistance, said University of Malaya's Medicine Faculty dean and Medicine and Infectious Diseases Professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman (pic).

"We have antibiotics that treat serious infections but some of these don't work on superbugs. This is alarming," she said.

No national statistics are available but Dr Adeeba said those very ill or had stayed in hospital for a long period are more exposed to superbug infection.

Superbugs are bacteria that had become resistant to antibiotics following their frequent and wide-spread use.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released the Anti-microbial Resistance Global Report on Surveillance 2014 based on data provided by 114 countries.

Its first report looking at antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance globally, revealed this was a major threat to public health in all regions of the world.

"Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill," said WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Security Dr Keiji Fukuda on the WHO's website.

Dr Adeeba said the biggest concern in Malaysia was hospital acquired infection and the main culprit was the Acinetobacter, a common bacteria resistant to most antibiotics and could cause pneumonia, blood infections, meningitis and even death.

Institute of Respiratory Medicine director Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Muttalif said the percentage of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis was still negligible.

One per cent (240) of the 24,000 new TB patients diagnosed last year were multi-drug resistant and failed to be treated.

"This was mainly due to patients not adhering strictly to earlier treatment regime," he said.

Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah warned that more bacteria would become resistant to more antibiotics in time, even the common ones, if people keep taking antibiotics even for minor ailments.