Headlines January 10, 2014
A so-called superbug has been found at a suburban hospital in Chicago Illinois. According to the report, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge has identified 38 patients, who have tested positive for an emerging strain of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, or CRE also known as “nightmare bacteria”.
The bacteria appear to be resistant to a class of antibiotics used to treat seriously ill people and the mortality rate of those affected is close to 50 percent.
The strain identified in Illinois is rare and is normally found overseas. The bacterium was present on equipment found in the hospital and leads everyone to speculate improper sanitation procedures caused the bacteria to spread from the equipment to patients and may have spread to any person in contact with the equipment. The hospital suspects that up to 243 patients may have been exposed to the deadly bacteria (Robert McCoppin, 2014).
Hospitals Are Not Safe
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it may soon be too late to control the spread of the nightmare bacteria unless something is done. Untreatable and often deadly the bacteria are spreading throughout hospitals in the United States. What makes these bacteria even more deadly is that it can spread its resistant gene to other bacteria.
It appears at this time there is no reporting requirements when a hospital treats a patient with the bacteria. Essentially, you do not know if you have been exposed at your local hospital because hospital administrators may (opinion only) quell information to prevent panic in the community.
According to the CDC, at least four percent of the hospitals in the nation have reported at least one case of the nightmare bacteria so that begs the question how many did not report any cases when in fact they have treated people for the bacteria.
The bacteria has been found in 42 states so far. Some doctors may not even be aware they are treating a patient with the bacteria because approximately 50 percent of the patients do recover (CDC, 2013).
Some medical professionals believe it is simply a matter of time before there is a major outbreak and because of the mortality rate, it will be devastating. Imagine millions of people being infected instead of hundreds at this point.
Medical professionals’ state there is little chance of developing a drug in the coming years that would be affective against the CRE Bacteria (CDC, 2013).
Who Needs Enemies with Friends Like This
It is very disturbing to realize that equipment such as an endoscope used for a medical procedure was not sanitized properly after use and then was used on another patient. This is how the deadly strain is passed on not to mention it being on clothing and hands of the medical professionals.
It is amazing with all the technology in the world today a simple thing like washing your hands and equipment can prevent the spread of a deadly disease and yet apparently hands and equipment are not being properly washed. Doctors and staff are relying on technology to much and overlooking the simplest things that save lives, non-technical things.
It appears obvious that unless it cost thousands of dollars and medical degree for a procedure to be performed it is not being done in hospitals. Those accustomed to getting their answers by using advanced technology may tend to overlook the simple things like scrubbing their hands and equipment.
Doctors first learned about washing hands to prevent the spread of disease over 150 years ago. Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis recommended in 1847 that washing hands with chlorinated water and limejuice would stop the spread of fevers. The good doctor was roundly criticized at the time and doctors were offended at the thought of washing their hands. Louis Pasteur was of course the first to confirm the germ theory.
For more on Semmelweis see Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever by Ignaz Semmelweis
It Can Happen
The nightmare bacteria may become a catastrophe of epic proportions and once started it appears to be impossible to stop. The pandemic would be for all practical purpose a doomsday scenario. People would be forced to isolate themselves and only the obviously healthy would be allowed into a community.
People would panic and lack of information and misinformation would cause needless harm and cause many people to be ostracized or outright killed. Imagine a community is isolated and along comes someone with the sniffles. What would the leaders of that group do, would they simply send the sick person on their way or think about not allowing that person to spread the bacteria to other communities?
Proper Sanitation Has Always Been Prudent
A little bleach, water, and/or alcohol can go along ways in keeping bacteria at bay. Once in your system however, the CRS strain would require antibiotics, which do not work. The body’s immune system is what should be fighting the bacteria and because of the overuse of antibiotic, some people’s immune system has been weakened.
The body has the tools to fight bacteria and diseases but in some cases, the body has relied on antibiotics to do all the fighting for them. Now along comes a strain of bacteria that has developed immunity to all the antibiotics. Now it is time for the body to step up and it cannot because up until this point medicines did all the work.
CDC. (2013). Retrieved 2014, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/05/superbugs-infections-hospitals/1965133/
Robert McCoppin, C. D. (2014, January 10). Retrieved 2014, from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-01-10/health/ct-hospital-bacteria-exposure-met-20140110_1_bacteria-superbug-cre