Patients have been infected with a lethal new superbug here for the first time, causing major concern to health experts.
Four cases have already been diagnosed in hospitals around the country -- three of them this year -- sparking fears the new bug will spread, it was revealed yesterday.
CRE (Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae), which can be treated with few antibiotics, has already taken hold in the Greece and parts of the US. It can cause kidney infection and pneumonia.
"There have been few cases in Ireland yet but the fact we have seen any at all is a shot across the bows," warned Robert Cunney, microbiologist with disease watchdog, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
"Once it has spread it is very difficult to control," he said, speaking on World Antibiotic Awareness Day.
Although the rate of MRSA has fallen due to various factors, including better infection control and surveillance, other powerful bugs are on the rise.
Resistance to the drugs is growing because of a rise in the use of broad spectrum antibiotics.