IRELAND has deployed an emergency team to fight a potentially fatal superbug what has wreaked havoc on Irish hospitals.
A 'rapid and worrying' increase of the superbug CPE has been seen in recent years, prompting the Irish Government to take action.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has now convened the National Public Health Emergency Team to tackle the problem.
The Minister continued to say that the emergency team will meet weekly to provide reports monitoring CPE and to demand a national response from the HSE.
Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) has cost Limerick University Hospital €4million to tackle over a four-year period.
Dublin's Tallaght hospital had to cancel some 700 surgeries over a two year period at an estimated cost of €2million.
The bug, a gram-negative bacteria carried in the gut, is resistant to most antibiotics.
Shed in the faeces and transmitted by direct and indirect contact, CPE is aathreat to human health, particularly in hospital settings.
A period of four weeks or more may elapse between contact and the time at which CPE becomes detectable.
More than half of all patients who develop blood stream infections with CPE die as a result of their infection.
“We have seen a rapid and worrying increase in the incidence of CPE in Ireland, with a significant increase in numbers of cases of CPE in recent years," Irish Health Minister Simon Harris said.
"Known outbreaks have occurred in eight healthcare facilities in Ireland resulting in high costs and bed closures. International experience indicates that CPE and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) need to be tackled at national level."
He added: "That is why I am now convening the National Public Health Emergency Team and activating the National Public Health Emergency Plan.
"There is experience from other countries that a vigorous response in good time can contain CPE and so I am committed to tackling this with the urgency it requires.”
With regard to the flu vaccine, the Minister also stressed that those in at-risk groups and healthcare workers should get the vaccine.
He said it significantly reduces the chances of getting flu and reduces the severity of symptoms if the virus you contract is not the one vaccinated against.