Soldiers returning from Afghanistan bring home superbug

MONTREAL — Canadian soldiers are bringing home from dusty Afghanistan a powerful, drug-resistant superbug that health officials have been worrying about for several years.

MONTREAL — Canadian soldiers are bringing home from dusty Afghanistan a powerful, drug-resistant superbug that health officials have been worrying about for several years.

Three Canadian soldiers who recently returned from Kandahar carrying so-called “Iraqibacter” are under quarantine at a civilian hospital in Quebec City.

Two civilian patients who came in close contact with the soldiers at Hopital de l’Enfant-Jesus have also been isolated for fear they may have contracted the superbug officially named Acinetobacter baumannii.

The hospital-acquired germ, commonly found in soil and water, strikes weakened immune systems, especially in those recovering from wounds.

It has been known to cause conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis as well as blood, urinary tract and wound infections.

Some people carry the bacteria on their skin without showing symptoms.

Two years ago, the Public Health Agency of Canada warned Canadian hospitals that outbreaks could happen after wounded soldiers returned home from Afghanistan either sickened by the strain, or simply carrying it in their system.

The department did not immediately answer requests for an interview on the subject Thursday.

A 2007 report in the publication Wound Care Canada said incidences of the strain have increased in U.S. military hospitals.

“With more injured soldiers returning to Canada, we would expect the same phenomenon to occur, albeit to a lesser scale, in Canada,” the report said.

“Although rare, the development of significant anti-microbial resistance has made treatment more difficult. It is, therefore, an emerging potential problem within hospitals.”

Military hospitals treating U.S. troops serving in the Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan first noticed an increase in Acinetobacter baumannii infections in 2002, said a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

U.S. soldiers have since dubbed the germ “Iraqibacter.”

A spokeswoman for Quebec City’s Hopital de l’Enfant-Jesus said the hospital has treated between 15 and 20 soldiers carrying the organism since 2007.

The three quarantined soldiers stayed at the military hospital in Kandahar before arriving last Friday in Quebec City from the war zone, Genevieve Dupuis said.

“This isn’t the first case we’ve had. We’ve received military patients returning from Afghanistan with this bacterium since 2007,” she said.

She said the civilians are being tested to see if they caught the bug and the hospital has put measures in place to isolate the bacterium, as it would if a patient with c. difficile had been admitted.

“There is nothing to be worried about, not for patients or for visitors or for employees,” Dupuis said.

Just Posted

Legalizing cannabis cost estimate for Red Deer just under $400k

Although the province of Alberta has announced $11.2 million for cannabis legalization,… Continue reading

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

Red Deer-area dads going through divorce are invited to Man Up

Support group formed to focus on positive activities, networking

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

PHOTO: Say goodbye to City Hall Park flowers

A sure sign that winter is on its way is when City… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

Most Read