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Increase in cases of opportunist bug

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There has been an increase in hospital patients infected with Pseudomonas bacteria, according to voluntary reports made to the Health Protection Agency.

During 2006 there were 3,663 cases resulting in serious blood poisoning compared with 3,306 in 2005. The increase in reported infections has gained coverage in the national media, because of the bugs perceived resistance to antibiotics.

Most cases are reported in ICUs, burns, spinal injuries and cancer units, the agency said, where patients may be immunosupressed. The bacteria can cause a range of infections from mild ones affecting the skin to those of the bloodstream.

Cross infection between patients on wards is less likely to occur than for more aggressive bacteria such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, the HPA said.

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