Deadly Superbug Outbreak In North Carolina Hospital

| by Arthur Kogan
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A deadly superbug that contributed to two deaths in Los Angeles has now made its way to North Carolina.

According to CNN, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) is a “family of bacteria usually found in hospitals and other health care facilities that has evolved a huge resistance to antibiotics.” CRE is spread by physical contact and most CRE cases occur in the hospital by health care workers potentially touching an open wound with a contaminated object. Patients in a hospital setting with vulnerable health conditions may be more susceptible to the disease.

Kevin McCarthy, spokesman with the Carolinas HealthCare System, says that 18 people have contracted CRE. Of those 18 people, 15 had CRE prior to admission into the hospital, and the remaining three acquired it inside the hospital. One patient has been reported dead but McCarthy claims that the exact cause of death is not immediately clear. McCarthy did not provide any details on the patients or exactly how they became infected.

Seven patients in Los Angeles contracted the disease after receiving a routine endoscopic procedure in which the two medical scopes being used were infected. Hospital officials, however, claim they followed the disinfection guidelines throughout the procedures.

If you are a generally healthy individual and avoid hospital visits, you most likely do not have a high risk of catching the infection. According to the LA Times, “Those at highest risk include patients who are receiving serious medical care and have been exposed to equipment like breathing machines, catheters or IVs, as well as long-term antibiotics.”

There is no question that the disease is deadly. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the superbug can kill up to 50% of all patients who are infected.

In light of this recent outbreak in the North Carolina hospital, organizations and health care providers have begun to take precautions and necessary steps to prevent further cases. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a five-year, $5 million grant to the Denver Health Medical Center to study the infection. If you are going to be making any hospital visits or have any procedures scheduled, ensure that all medical equipment has been effectively cleaned and managed.

Sources: CNN, CNN (2), Denver Post, LA Times, Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

Photo Source: Wikimedia, CNN