Drug Resistant Superbug Reported in California Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are being plagued with a potentially fatal <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hospital_infections">drug-resistant infection, with over 350 cases reported in Southern California. Health officials say additional tracking is needed, wrote the LA Times.

The bacterium—Carbapenem-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP)—is turning up at healthcare facilities in Los Angeles County and is infecting elderly at skilled-nursing and long-term care facilities, according to a study led by Dr. Dawn Terashita, an epidemiologist at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said the LA Times.

“They’ve been brought into the hospital from the nursing home,” said Dr. Brad Spellberg, an infectious-disease expert at the LA Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance, quoted the LA Times. “There’s no evidence that this organism is being spread person to person in hospitals,” he added.

But, Deborah Pacyna, a spokeswoman for the California Association of Healthcare Facilities, a group that represents over 1,200 nursing homes, did not agree, saying, “There’s no evidence this is being spread person to person in nursing homes…. If this was a problem, we would have heard about it,” quoted the LA Times.

About five patients at Torrance Memorial Medical Center were diagnosed with CRKP infections in the year prior to their being transferred to the hospital from nursing homes to the hospital’s director of infection control, Elizabeth Clark, told the LA Times. The patients likely became infected at the hospital, the LA Times explained. According to Clark, no patients died or passed the infection. Clark noted that this particular bacteria is just one drug-resistant infection she has seen, but said CRKP is a particular issue. “It’s a concern because of the difficulty of treating someone,” reported LA Times.

The study could not isolate how many local infections were fatal; however, studies in the United States and Israel suggest 40 percent of CRPK patients die, noted the LA Times.

This study revealed, said the LA Times, that of 146 reported infections, 42 percent originated at long-term acute-care hospitals; one experienced an outbreak. Another 20 cases were reported at skilled nursing facilities and the remainder at acute-care hospitals. The average patient age was 73 and most patients were female.

“These are very serious infections, hugely complicated by the fact that the treatment options are severely limited,” said Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate director for healthcare-associated infection-prevention programs at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC) quoted LA Times. Typically, CRKP is treated with colistin, an antibiotic known to kidney damage and which does not always resolve the infection, the LA Times explained.

We previously wrote that a drug resistant strain of E. coli has emerged and has the potential to affect six-to-eight million bladder infection sufferers—mostly women—sickened with the painful condition annually. Multi-drug resistant E. coli ST131 could potentially be blamed for some one million infections and over 3,000 deaths annually that originate from urinary tract infections (UTIs).

When antibiotics are overused or misused, bacteria mutate, changing just enough to ensure drugs have no effect on them and allowing them a wide berth to spread with increasing power. Although tempting, preventative antibiotic regimes only worsen the epidemic, strengthening the bacteria. Many new drugs are not effective because, as new drugs surface, it’s a matter of time before super bugs become resistant to them, too. Because antibiotics can add to the problem, patients and physicians are advised to be cautious when prescribing, requesting, and taking antibiotics.

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