All patients being admitted to Guy's from other hospitals are being screened for the new strain of the bacteria, MSRA- 16, which has been found increasingly in recent months in hospitals in southern England.
The bacteria, a strain of the 'super-bug' methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was detected when the patients developed wound infections. The 14 affected are not in danger.
The woman who died last week had been transferred to Guy's from a local hospital for emergency open-heart surgery. She did well and was discharged but became infected and went back to her local hospital. When her condition worsened Guy's was informed and re-admitted her.
Christopher Blauth, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Guy's, said yesterday that the patient had been infected with MRSA-16 and with another bacteria. 'MRSA was not the only infection present. She was desperately ill but it did make a contribution to her death.'
Mr Blauth said that the alarm bells sounded when a number of patients were found to have wound infections that proved to be MRSA. 'These patients are being treated in side-rooms from the wards using barrier nursing. In general terms there is no need for patients to be worried by this.'
A spokeswoman for the Public Health Laboratory Service said that MRSA was causing concern and was difficult to eradicate. The bacteria had affected dozens of hospitals and its various strains have been associated with numerous deaths.
About one-third of the population carry the bacteria harmlessly in the nasal cavity but the elderly and frail are vulnerable if infected, she said.Reuse content