Two years after some 400 of 1,000 hospital patients infected with a resistant strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria died around the country, the Health Ministry has managed to cut the number of infections by two-thirds due to a focused campaign to reduce nosocomial (hospital-contracted) infections. The ministry issued a report for publication on Tuesday stating that as a result of the serious rise in nosocomial infections in 2006, it set up a national committee of professionals to deal with the issue. The committee's first assignment was to bring the wave of hospital infections to a halt. The ministry also issued strict regulations for isolating hospital patients suffering from bacterial infections that do not respond to most available antibiotics. Working with the directors-general of all the hospitals, the national committee succeeded in controlling the outbreaks of resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, and the prevalence of such infections dropped. So far in 2008, the number of monthly nosocomial infection cases has dropped to only one-third the 2006 figure, the ministry said. The ministry noted that nosocomial Klebsiella pneumoniae infections have not been wiped out and could return - possibly with even greater force - if the effort to improve standards is not scrupulously continued. Every hospital has an infectious disease specialist working with an epidemiological nurse and a microbiology lab. In addition, the hospitals were told to increase awareness among doctors and nurses of the importance of washing hands with alcohol rub after examining and treating each patient. The ministry noted that nosocomial Klebsiella pneumoniae infections have not been wiped out and could return - possibly with even greater force - if the effort to improve standards is not scrupulously continued. The fact that elderly patients who carry such bacteria and are treated in long-term geriatric institutions are often moved to general hospitals requires vigilance in preventing widespread nosocomial infections, the ministry added. The ministry's national unit for the prevention of nosocomial infections will begin this year to expand its work in geriatric and other long-term medical institutions.