A superbug has contaminated hand-washing sinks in the intensive care unit at Melbourne's Dandenong Hospital, making 10 patients ill with the bacteria that have killed people overseas.
The hospital has been struggling to contain the multidrug-resistant bacteria since 2009, a report in the Medical Journal of Australia says.
Ten patients have been infected since then, but none have died from the infection.
Infectious disease specialist Rhonda Stuart said the bacteria known as CRE were found in sinks where staff washed their hands. While it cannot be proved, this might have spread the infection to patients because the design of the sinks caused water to splash back off the drain, Fairfax reported.
The hospital is preparing to replace the sinks, which in the meantime are being cleaned regularly with 170-degree pressurised steam.
"No patients have tested positive for the bacteria since we've undertaken this process, so we're happy things have been controlled with the new steam technology," said Associate Professor Stuart.
CRE (Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae) is a new class of multidrug-resistant bacteria that have the ability to spread drug resistance to other bacteria.
The superbug is thought to be an emerging issue in Australian hospitals, with microbiologists and infectious disease experts calling for action to prevent their spreading.
Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases president David Looke and colleagues wrote in the Medical Journal that health authorities need to be "brave enough" to make difficult decisions on the use of antibiotics if Australia is to avoid a "plague" of multidrug-resistant bacteria that would make many illnesses untreatable.