Mortal, multi-resistant germs in clinics

Mortal, multi-resistant germs in clinics

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Dangerous germs captured abroad can easily spread in German hospitals

Again and again, patients in hospitals become infected with so-called multi-resistant germs, against which hardly any antibiotic is effective. But where do the dangerous pathogens come from? Researchers at the University Hospital Leipzig investigated this question and came to the conclusion that the germs are often introduced by travelers from countries with a high prevalence of multi-resistant bacteria. Experts are now demanding better hygiene measures in German clinics and patient screening based on the Dutch model.

Tourists carry in multi-resistant germs unnoticed Between May 2013 and April 2014, the Leipzig scientists compared the data of 225 people who had previously been in areas with a high spread of the dreaded germs. As it turned out, almost every third of around 200 travelers showed coli bacteria with resistance. Among them were eleven out of 15 people who had traveled to India. Although none of the study participants contracted the germs, the risk of introducing the dangerous pathogens into a hospital unnoticed was great, reported infectiologist Christoph Lübbert and his colleagues in the specialist journal "International Journal of Medical Microbiology". The fight against germs must therefore be conducted globally. "Active monitoring and contact isolation precautions should be recommended for access to medical facilities, especially for patients who have traveled to India and Southeast Asia in the past six months," the researchers write.

The Patient Protection Foundation does not go far enough to recommend this. She calls for screening for all patients admitted to a clinic. "We are running after the infection," foundation board member Eugen Brysch told the news agency "dpa". The risk of becoming infected with multi-resistant germs is currently high. "This is a basic problem that we have to face." Brysch advises that, as a precautionary measure, every patient should assume that they carry a dangerous germ with which they could infect others.

Peter Walger, spokesman for the German Society for Hospital Hygiene (DGHK), is against general screening. Because such an investigation would result in high costs and a mass of data. Screening should only be used where it makes sense. “We do not need to know who is walking around with multi-resistant germs because they pose no danger. If you stick to basic hygiene, you can also control the germs well, ”Walger told the news agency. Rather, it is necessary to ensure that those patients who are carriers of multi-resistant germs are identified when they are admitted to a hospital. "We say: We want to test risk patients." In addition to travelers, this also included patients who would be transferred from other clinics within Germany.

German clinics are free to decide on preventive measures against germs. The legal situation enables each clinic to decide for itself how to prevent germs. Last fall, the Mittelrhein Community Clinic in Koblenz launched a campaign entitled "Touch hearts, not hands", in which the hospital's children's clinic announced that parents and patients no longer shook hands give.

Dutch clinics handle the risk of germs quite differently. Although there is no general screening there, every patient belonging to a risk group is tested, explains Alexander Friedrich, director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene at the University Hospital Groningen in the Netherlands to the news agency. The Dutch healthcare system is geared towards infection prevention. "In Holland we focus on hygiene, wise antibiotic treatment and the visualization of pathogens before anyone gets sick." There is also a full-time hospital hygienist in every hospital, so far this has not been the case in Germany.

According to Friedrich, patients from Germany are always considered to be at risk because of the lack of infection prevention. In the Netherlands there are only sporadic imported seed colonies, but no nationwide outbreaks like in Germany.

The differences are hardly apparent in the border regions, as there are almost no multi-resistant germs there. "We want to make sure that this region is the last in which these pathogens spread," said Friedrich. "The rest should be able to orientate themselves instead of simply accepting the germs." (ag)

: Sebastian Karkus /

Author and source information

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