“New” superbug…

Posted on November 22, 2007. Filed under: Apply topically |

Excitement and scare mongering runs riot again…


I was sitting peacefully one evening, talking to my wife and sister in law (both work in a large hospital), when one of them piped up that one of the girls at work had mentioned a “new superbug”. All three of us reacted in the same way when we heard the name of this new threat to human life….

“but that’s been around for years!”

But sure enough I go to the reliable “Telegraph” and find only this week an article entitled:

New Superbug may be killing hundreds!”

And sure enough the bug in question is Pseudomonas.

Who stole the blue and white chocolate sprinkles?

Even someone who doesn’t remember the ward sisters ensuring the water in the flowers was changes daily to stop Pseudomonas growing, could have guessed there was something slightly amiss with the definition “new”.

The article includes an interview with Professor Enright who estimates that pseudomonas kills hundreds each year, particularly those patients who go on to get septicaemia, or blood poisoning….Whoa!!! Hold on there!!! If it’s so new how come it kills hundreds each year, it must have been around a while to know that!

Then the article goes on to say it isn’t officially classed as a superbug….So it’s not new and…

it’s not a superbug….Inaccurate headline then really. Still I suppose:

“Old bug most clinical staff have heard of, maybe killing hundreds”  Doesn’t have the same punchy scaremongery ring about it.

So how old is this “new bug”. Well that great non medical web site wikipedia states:

The generic name Pseudomonas created for these organisms was defined in rather vague terms in 1894 as a genus of Gram-negative, rod-shaped and polar-flagella bacteria.


Nursing 1894!

Slightly more reliable texts do exist, but if wikipedia knows about it then it is scarcely news worthy.

So why the sudden excitement about such an old bug???

The Guardian gives us a hint…stating that: The number of cases of Pseudomonas rose by 41 per cent from 2,605 in 2002 to 3,663 last year, according to Health Protection Agency figures. 

Now that is something to worry about….statistics, they always scare me. 86% of statistics are made up on the spot, while 94% are based on research carried out by incompetent government aids!

Lets look closer at those scary numbers…firstly forget the percentages. From 2,605 cases in 2002 to 3,663 cases in 2006. That’s 1,058 cases. Any increase in a life threatening bacteria is obviously a bad thing – I don’t dispute it.  But let us put the percentage back in…

UK population is estimate around 60,587,000….therefore that’s an increase of  0.0017% of the whole UK population in four years. 

 Nurses getting ready…..Now you can panic!! 

I believe that’s the same percentage of people that die from chronic chagastic cardiopathy with a normal ECG.  That is a concern – I think!


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3 Responses to ““New” superbug…”

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There are lies,, damn lies and statistics – and newspapers.

I certainly knew of pseudomonas back in the 1970s-1980s when I was a nurse.

Good post in a good blog. Thank you

Give me a break! It’s the pharm companies trying to stir up new patient orders for more antibiotics. It’s bad enough that they don’t finish them anyway!

How funny! Next you’ll hear sales people tell you look at our new 1984 Duster. Before I believe an article, I make sure I read a few different sources on the topic.

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