Drug-resistant bugs move into the community
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA is moving out of the hospital and into the community.
With the threat from superbugs resistant to treatment continuing to grow, health authorities are also working to combat a new, resistant strain of gonorrhoea.
Initially MRSA - Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus - had been considered a hospital bug, but in the past decade it had been increasingly associated with infections in the community, crown research institute ESR said in its just-published 2012 annual report.
"Most of the increase here in recent years has been due to the spread of a particular strain that is associated with community infections."
MRSA cases increased by nearly 40 per cent in New Zealand between 2010 and 2011.
Resistance of microorganisms to antimicrobial medicine was increasing around the world, and had been described as a "crisis" by the World Health Organisation.
"Some common and life-threatening infections are now very difficult and even impossible to treat," the ESR report said.
"Resistant organisms result in longer hospital stays, time off work, more expensive drugs, increased control measures and more deaths."
Antimicrobial resistance testing had increased 26 per cent as a result of new funding from the Ministry of Health during the past three years to increase testing and surveillance of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.
During the past year, ESR had also been involved in efforts to define and implement measures to manage the spread of the new, resistant strain of gonorrhoea, this country's second most prevalent bacterial sexually transmitted infection.