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A heart surgery unit at a Scots hospital has been forced to close after an outbreak of a potentially- deadly superbug.

The cardiac surgery intensive care unit at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow, has been shut for a week since the MRSA bug was identified.

Around 20 heart operations in the nine-bed unit have been cancelled while it is given a deep clean by infection control experts.

It is not expected to be up and running again until the beginning of next week.

Three heart surgery patients are being treated in isolation at the hospital for MRSA infection.

The bug - which often strikes hospital patients with wounds from operations - is estimated to kill 100 people in Britain each year.

Although it is usually harmless and often carried on the skin, it can be particularly dangerous to the young and old and to those whose immune systems are weakened.

Infection can lead to potentially-fatal blood poisoning and complications such as pneumonia.

Another problem is the bug has mutated to develop resistance to penicillin and methicillin, making it hard to treat.

Because of the widespread nature of the bug, it is usually brought into hospitals by patients themselves and can only be detected by a swab.

Latest figures reveal a dramatic increase in the problem. Reports for the first three months of this year found 1524 reported cases of MRSA in Scots hospitals.

That is almost four times as high as the figure for the corresponding period in 1996.

A spokeswoman for the Western Infirmary said the cancelled operations were non- urgent and emergency admissions would not be affected.

She added: "The reason for the need to contain MRSA is that in a very small percentage of cases colonisation can lead to clinical infection."
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Author:McGivern, Mark
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 1, 1998
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