Travel Warning: Returning Aussie Travelers Carry Resistant Superbugs

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By Athena Yenko | February 4, 2014 3:39 PM EST

Returning travelers from countries, including Croatia, Colombia, India, the Philippines and Mauritius, China, Greece and Spain were mostly infected by resistant superbugs. These patients were put under strict isolation subjected to further tests and confirmation.

In a written note in the Medical Journal of Australia, Melbourne doctors said they have treated 10 patients with the case of a 66-year-old man being the worst.

The man already came home with a ruptured bowel after undergoing a surgery in a Greek Hospital. The man was then flown back home to Australia and treated at Austin. But the superbugs that affected the man were so resistant that the doctors ran out of antibiotics. The doctors had no choice but to remove the man's bowel to prevent further infection.

With the rampant case of a superbug, hospitals are advised to have isolated areas for treating all returning travelers.

In an interview with ABC, Dr. Lindsay Grayson, an infectious disease expert, said a policy to assume all infected returning travelers was now being implemented in all hospitals.

"We've now instituted a policy that any returned travellers who come to our hospital who'd need medical care, we assume that they're contaminated until we can confirm that they're not. We now put them into lockdown isolation until we've confirmed that they're not carrying superbugs... we now feel that for many hospitals around the country, this change in thinking, this assumption that these patients should be quarantined until they are proved to be safe, in our view, is the way I think we will now need to start practicing medicine, and of course this has a lot of implications. Firstly, it means that where we're needing the single rooms for these patients, whereas otherwise we're usually desperately short of single rooms, we would have used them for other patients."

Alison Verhoeven, chief executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, said this policy posed a challenge to the hospital system.

"That would put enormous pressure, obviously, on the hospital system. We know that nationwide the national average for single rooms in hospitals in Australia is around 25 per cent of the hospital being single rooms. So we do know that blanket admissions of all ill travellers into quarantine facilities in hospitals would put significant pressure on the system."

In lieu of the matter, Grayson stressed all Aussies returning from their travel and became ill within a month should advised their doctors about the countries they had visited.

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