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Outbreak of bacteria at Aussie hospitals a ‘national issue’: What you need to know

Queensland Health issued a patient safety alert urging hospitals and clinics to immediately stop using two InterPharma sodium chloride products due to fears they are contaminated with Ralstonia pickettii bacteria.

Video transcript

- An outbreak of bacteria in hospitals across Australia has been linked to almost 50 people, including an elderly patient who died. Here's what you need to know.

Queensland Health issued a patient safety alert urging hospitals and clinics to immediately stop using two InterPharma sodium chloride products due to fears that they're contaminated with Ralstonia picketti bacteria. The bacteria is normally found in soil and water.

The death of an elderly patient in a Queensland private hospital last week is being investigated after the bacteria was identified in their blood. There are currently 44 suspected cases across the country with authorities claiming the issue was first identified in New South Wales and involves products imported from overseas. The identified saline products were in use across seven Queensland health services but have now been removed. The Therapeutic Goods Association has since issued an urgent quarantine notice for the two products.

Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman said scientists in the ACT have identified products from India and Greece as a possible source of contamination. Ms. Fentiman told parliament the outbreak is a national issue. The bacteria is especially concerning to those with significant underlying medical conditions or those who have implanted medical devices. According to reports, the bacteria can lead to septic shock and death in immunosuppressed people.