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'Emerging superbug' found at hospitals

Maidstone Hospital
Maidstone Hospital

Cases of a new deadly superbug that statistically kills one in three infected patients have been reported at Kent hospitals.

Ten cases of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, commonly called Steno, occurred at hospitals run by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, between April 2007 and March 2008. That is the same trust at the centre of the C-diff outbreaks that killed 90 patients between April 2004 and September 2006.

Another six Steno cases were reported at Darent Valley Hospital, which is within the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust.

Medway Maritime Hospital reported two cases of Steno between April last year and March this year.

A spokesman from the East Kent Hospitals Trust said there were no reported cases for the same period.

The infections did not lead to any deaths. There have been 1,000 cases nationally.

Steno, described by researchers as an "emerging superbug" flourishes in most environments, particularly around taps and shower heads. It can get into the body via catheters or ventilation tubes left in place for long periods of time.

A Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust spokesman said: "Cases of Steno are very rare. Patient safety is paramount and our general infection rates have fallen significantly thanks to scrupulous hygiene and infection control."

In the same year the Steno infections were reported, cases of C-diff at the trust were cut by 35 per cent, to 290 cases, compared to the 444 cases in 2006 to 2007.

A spokesman for Darent Valley Hospital said: "Prevention and control of infection at Darent Valley Hospital is a priority."

How does Steno spread?

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