Web Zap*Germs Archive

March 24, 2005

Newborn's Death by MRSA Superbug Rocks UK

Already reeling from a growing nosocomial (hospital-caused) epidemic of the MRSA "superbug" bacteria, the UK health system is facing a full-blown scandal in the wake of the death of newborn Luke Day.

Baby Luke died 36 hours after his birth on February 2 in Ipswich Hospital. A post-mortem revealed he died from MRSA infection. Tests showed his family members were not carriers of the deadly bacteria -- but neither were any of the hospital staff members tested. Dr. Philip Jones, microbiologist at Ipswich Hospital, says that it may be impossible to uncover the actual source of Luke's fatal infection.

Luke's father, Kevin Fenton, refused to sign the death certificate until "MRSA" replaced "septicaemia" as the actual cause of death. His mother, Glynis Day, says "I want something done about it, even though it's not going to bring him back."

The MRSA epidemic has become a political football as UK elections near. Conservatives claim that the Labour government is undercounting the true MRSA mortality rate.

The figures for the six months from April to September of last year show that some 3,519 NHS patients were infected with MRSA, compared to 3,940 in the previous six months and 3,598 in the same period of 2001.

Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, has made hospital-acquired infections like MRSA a central plank of his attacks on Labour stewardship of the health service. "Cleaner hospitals" is one of the Tories' five key pledges for the general election expected on May 5. (The Times Online)

Update 27 Apr 05: Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has promised Luke Day's parents that, if put in power, his party will reform the NHS to improve the fight against MRSA.


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