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Cases of RP maids with ‘superbug’ infection growing in HK

First Posted 19:07:00 01/07/2008

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MANILA, Philippines -- The growing number of Filipino domestic helpers contracting a drug-resistant ?superbug? infection in Hong Kong has drawn the concern of medical practitioners there, according to the Gulf English newspaper, Khaleej Times, citing a Hong Kong University study published on Sunday.

The report said the study found that more than half of the 64 non-Chinese cases of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococus aureus (MRSA) infections in Hong Kong in 2007 were Filipino domestic helpers.

MRSA is a bacterial infection that is resistant to some of the strongest antibiotics. Usually it infects wounds but can cause complications such as pneumonia or blood poisoning.

It was first identified in hospitals in the 1960s and can be life-threatening for those with weakened immune systems.

The report quoted Ho Pak-leung, professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, as saying that the high infection rate among the Filipino group could be due to a history of high use of antibiotics.

The year 2007 saw a record number of 166 community cases in Hong Kong compared with 8,000 hospital-acquired MRSA.

Of 155 recorded cases, 91 involved Chinese locals, 33 Filipinos, five each for Americans and Indians, and two each from Nepal, Australia, Denmark and England. The remainder were single cases from various ethnic backgrounds.

Ho said he believed the figures were just the tip of the iceberg.

?It is spreading in our community. We need to do something before it is firmly established,? he said.

There are at least 120,000 Filipino workers in Hong Kong, most of whom are employed as domestic helpers in the city of 6.9 million.

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