The total number of bacterial and fungal bloodstream infection reports from England, Wales and Northern Ireland increased by 44.3 per cent between 2014 and 2018, according to the latest figures from Public Health England (PHE).
In 2018, 157,990 patient episodes of monomicrobial or polymicrobial bacteraemia and/or fungaemia were identified in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This represents a 65.7 per cent increase in patient episodes since 2009.
The figures show that in 2018, almost 10 per cent (16,521 of 166,472) bloodstream infection episodes were identified as polymicrobial. More than 640 distinct species were isolated from polymicrobial infections, with 85.8 per cent of episodes involving two different species, 11.7 per cent involving three species, 1.9 per cent involving four species and 0.5 per cent involving five or more distinct species.
The most frequently reported organisms involved in polymicrobial infections were Escherichia coli (15.4%), followed by coagulase-negative staphylococci (13.5%) and coliforms not further identified (5.6%).
The population rates (per 100,000) of polymicrobial infections in 2018 were 28.4 for England, 14.7 for Wales and 14.4 for Northern Ireland.
The highest rate of polymicrobial bacteraemia/fungaemia was observed in those aged 75 years and over (170.1 and 94.1/100,000, males and females, respectively) and infants aged less than one year (87.2 and 59.9/100,000, males and females, respectively).
PHE says the figures should be interpreted with caution as the data are derived from largely voluntary reports and may also reflect changes in laboratory reporting or diagnostic methods.