A new "untreatable" hospital infection has been claiming hundreds of lives each year. Professor Mark Enright,an expert on healthcare-acquired infections from Imperial College, London has warned that pseudomonas is dangerous because it is not only virulent in intensive care units, but is increasingly developing resistance to treatment.
"It is not as common as MRSA or C diff, and not one of the most aggressive pathogens, but Pseudomonas is probably untreatable in a lot of cases. It ends up killing some people because it is so resistant to antibiotics," he added.
Pseudomonas bacteria breed in water and are spread through contaminated medical equipment.
Although there exist no official statistics on the number of deaths from Pseudomonas bacteria, Prof Enright reckons that it kills hundreds each year, especially people who go on to get septicaemia, or blood poisoning.
Previous studies have shown that patients developing septicaemia after contracting Pseudomonas have only a 20 per cent chance of survival.
Pseudomonas, usually found in specialist wards, is a serious problem particularly for patients whose immune systems are low, who are in late stages of cancer, cystic fibrosis and HIV and who are suffering from severe burns.
A spokesman for the Department of Health has, in the meanwhile, said that the NHS works to tackle Pseudomonas as part of its strategy to combat all hospital-acquired bugs.
"Most infections can be treated with antibiotics and staff in specialist wards are aware of these infections and well trained in how to treat them," he said.
"The measures that the Department of Health has put in place to tackle infection and ensure that high levels of hygiene are standard practice in our NHS will also help to control this infection," he added.