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Monday, April 28, 2008

A superbug capable of killing previously healthy youngsters within 48 hours is on the rise in Britain's playgrounds

Playground superbug can kill children within days

Extract from the Telegraph:

"A superbug capable of killing previously healthy youngsters within 48 hours is on the rise in Britain's playgrounds, and has left at least 10 children fighting for their lives.

Cases of the bug, known as Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), have more than doubled since 2005, official figures show.

Doctors are particularly concerned that many young people could have been exposed to the infection in their school playgrounds or in local parks.

Children are especially vulnerable to PVL, a member of the Staphylococcus aureas family of infections, and it can combine with MRSA, the deadly hospital superbug.

Once contracted, the infection acts quickly to kill off white blood cells, an essential part of the body's immune system.

The bug can also enter a patient's skeleton, where it becomes particularly hard to cure. Doctors often have to treat the disease by removing infected bone.

Cases of PVL combining with MRSA were first reported in America several years ago and are becoming increasingly common.

Doctors claim that the Government is not taking the threat of the bug seriously enough.

Mark Enright, professor of molecular epidemiology at Imperial College London, said: "This infection can kill healthy children in one to two days, but the authorities are continuing to treat MRSA as purely a hospital problem and trying to assuage public opinion."

Professor Richard Wise, a leading microbiologist, told a Sunday newspaper that he warned a Government health minister of the threat three years ago."