Skip to main content

First Canadian acquired case of NDM-1 superbug -- in an Ontario hospital

In 2010, a study published in the famous academic journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases flagged the emergence of NDM-1, an enzyme that confers high levels of resistance of gut bacteria to almost all antibiotics, leading to potentially life-threatening pneumonia and urinary tract infections  The study concluded,  "The potential of NDM-1 to be a worldwide public health problem is great, and co-ordinated international surveillance is needed."
At that time, NDM-1 was widespread in India.  
But Canada now has it's first domestically acquired case of NDM-1 -- in an Ontario hospital, according to a new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.  
A man admitted to a Toronto hospital with a stroke later tested positive for NDM-1. He hadn't travelled outside of southwestern Ontario for the past 10 years; none of his family members or friends had travelled to India.  Fortunately, the man remained asymptomatic and did not spread the organism to other patients at the hospital.  There is reportedly no cause for public concern.
NDM-1 can exist inside different bacteria, like E.coli, and it makes them resistant to one of the most powerful groups of antibiotics - carbapenems.  These are generally reserved for use in emergencies and to combat hard-to-treat infections caused by other multi-resistant bacteria.  At least one of the NDM-1 infections the Lancet researchers analysed was resistant to all known antibiotics.

Health officials should consider making NDM-1 reportable, says Dr. Susan Poutanen, a medical microbiologist and infectious disease physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and author of the study.  "We don't have a handle on the exact numbers because it's not currently tracked," she said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that patients identified as being infected with or colonized by NDM-1 should be treated in single rooms using contact precautions and enhanced environmental cleaning for the duration of their stay in hospital, as well as other steps.   Dr. Poutanen reports that European guidelines recommend more precautionary steps


Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…