Bug that beats any antibiotic found in hospital

A BRITISH hospital has detected a potentially lethal bacterium which is resistant to every known antibiotic, it was claimed last night.

Tests at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary found two patients had the Visa bacterium that can resist vancomycin, which is the antibiotic used as a last resort, it was reported.

The patients had been found not to have the more widely known MRSA bacterium, a streptococcus aureus bacterium or "superbug" which can kill the sick and fragile.

One of the cases was a 60-year-old woman who was being treated in intensive care. She died four weeks later after being kept in isolation and the unit was closed for five days while patients, staff and relatives were screened.

The other patient was a man in his eighties who sparked alarm throughout the medical community when it emerged that he had left the hospital carrying the dangerous bacterium.

The hospital had to mount a hunt for all those who had come into contact with him. The man was confined to his home until tests proved he had no trace of Visa.

The find comes at a time when concerns are high about the weakening power of antibiotics and the rise of infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

At the same time TB has evolved into a new strain, known as MDRTB, which is believed to be able to conquer antibiotics. An outbreak of TB in New York has taken four years and $10m (pounds 6.25m) to bring under control. MDRTB is very prevalent in Russian prisons and there will be an estimated two million Russian carriers by 2010.

Cases of bacteria-resistant to vancomycin have already been reported in Japan, the United States and France. There are also several cases a year in London and other western cities, especially among the homeless.