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Monday, September 6, 1999 Published at 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK

UK: Scotland

Doctors discover 'superbug'

The "superbug" was discovered at Glasgow Royal Infirmary

Doctors have detected new strains of "superbugs" resistant which has become resistant to nearly all known antibiotics.

A woman in her sixties is reported to have died four weeks after being diagnosed with the Visa bacterium at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI).

BBC Scotland reporter James Cook on the "superbug" discovery
Visa has developed resistance to Vancomycin, an antibiotic used as a "last line of defence" against bacteria which cannot be treated by normal drugs.

Another man who contracted a separate strain of the Visa is thought to have left hospital while still infected but was confined to his home until given the all-clear.

[ image: Visa is said to be developing antibiotic resistance]
Visa is said to be developing antibiotic resistance
The hospital's intensive care unit was closed to new admissions for five days while patients, staff and the women's relatives were screened.

Blood tests confirmed the patients had Visa, which is been considered more dangerous than bacteria such as the potentially deadly MRSA.

There have only been a handful of Vancomycin-resistant cases across Europe.

The report comes amid heightened concerns about the weakening power of antibiotics which many experts blame on over prescription.

It is still possible to treat Visa but only with high doses of antibiotics and it is likely to develop a complete resistance in the future, although new antibiotics are constantly under development.

The two cases at GRI are understood to have come to light after routine screening and were unconnected.

Intensive care unit

The woman was already being treated in the intensive care unit but died after four weeks in isolation.

The man, who is thought to be in his eighties, had been released by the time blood tests were received and he he had to be confined to his home.

People he had come into contact with were tested but were found to be free of infection.

A spokesman for the hospital refused to confirm or deny the Guardian report but said he expected to make a statement later this morning.

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