MSRA Image by judy_breck via Flickr
Outbreak was one of my favorite movies. I read books like The Hot Zone in school and knew I was going to study Microbiology and become a microbiologist. Viruses were my favorites. I now focus more on business, but right now a relatively common Staph Aureus, is gaining notoriety by being anti-biotic resistant. Being a microbiologist, I know there are deadly germs hanging around in hospitals in the US today. Outbreaks have hit several states and an epidemic of MRSA is fast approaching in the next few years. Anti-biotic resistant bacteria is a very deadly condition where many young people die from these infections.
Currently, research has not fully grasped the medicines to fully combat these Superbugs. FDA hurdles are preventing new research into the matter. Additionally, there is decreased funding in Research and Development at major pharmaceutical companies during this economic downturn we have been experiencing.
Globalization causes these bugs to spread all around the globe in a matter of hours. Anyone can get infected, not know they are carrying the bacteria for a few days, get on an airplane, and arrive to your city, and spread the disease to every hospital in a matter of weeks. More stories to come on Superbug Anti-Biotic Companies in Phase III clinical trials.
Outbreak Movie Image via Wikipedia
Eight Deadly Superbugs Lurking in Hospitals
By NIKHIL HUTHEESING Posted 9:00 AM 10/15/10 Health Care
Increasingly, the hospital is becoming a dangerous place to spend time. Even if you are there for surgery and all goes smoothly, a superbug could get you, with very serious, life-altering consequences -- including possibly death.
Superbugs -- bacteria strains resistant to antibiotics -- are on the rise. Today, according to Dr. Philip Tierno, Director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at the Langone Medical Center at New York University, there are 2.5 million infections annually worldwide which result in about 100,000 needless deaths and cost billions of dollars in additional treatments.
One particularly deadly infection is MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). While hospitals generally don't publicize cases of patients acquiring such superbugs, one incident was widely covered in the media two years ago. In that case, Alonzo Smith, an 18-year old high school football player in Kissimmee, Florida, became sick after being infected by MRSA. It was not clear where he first came in contact with the infection -- in the school's locker room or in the hospital. But it tragically killed the youngster.
One year before his death, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that MRSA causes 19,000 deaths every year in the U.S., which is more than HIV/AIDS causes. The study pointed out that the number was particularly ominous because 20% of those who get the bacteria die from it and increasingly, its victims are young, healthy people like Alonzo Smith.
Rising Cost of Superbugs
Then there is the cost of treating MRSA. A patient who contracts it while hospitalized stays an average 10 days longer and costs an additional $30,000.
Another superbug attacked a woman in central Florida a few years back. Claudia Meijia delivered her baby in the hospital. But the happy occasion became devastating. While she was there, she was infected by a flesh eating bacteria that became so bad, doctors had no choice but to amputate both her arms and legs to keep her alive.
The Most Feared Newcomer: NDM-1
Superbugs have been plaguing hospitals in the U.S. and around the world since the creation of antibiotics. As more antibiotics are used, superbugs acclimate to them, and become stronger.
While 1 in 10 people have the MRSA bacteria on their skin -- and don't necessarily become sick from it -- a new superbug, NDM-1 is now appearing in hospitals in the U.K and the U.S. It has quickly become one of the most feared infections. NDM - 1, discovered in New Delhi (hence the name New Delhi metallobeta-lactamase, or NDM-1) makes bacteria resistant to antibiotics. It can also jump from species to species and infect the gut or urinary tract. NDM-1 is rapidly spreading, with 37 new infections recently showing up in hospitals in the U.K. and 140 cases in India and Pakistan.
"Globalization is a driver," says NYU's Dr. Tierno. "Americans go to India because it's cheaper to get some surgical procedures done there, but then they pick up various strains and spread them."
A Promising New Way to Kill Superbugs
How can superbugs be controlled? One of the latest attacks on killer infections comes from Newark, N.J -based BioNeutral Group, which has developed a sterilizing compound called Ygiene, which is designed to quickly and inexpensively help hospitals to kill superbugs. Chief Scientist at BioNeutral, Andrew Kielbania, says that Ygiene can kill superbugs faster and more cost effectively than alternative methods. So far, the product has been approved for sale as a disinfectant in Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Sweden. It is waiting for approval from the EPA -- expected in January -- before it can be used in the U.S.
In the meantime, there are other products such as antimicrobials and bleach that can destroy superbugs. But they can take a long time to work. Bleach, in particular, is toxic, so many doctors and nurses are averse to using it. In addition, bleach can be costly since after a certain amount of use, hospitals have to shut down wings to repair rooms and equipment. Ygiene, which comes in a variety of formats, has not had any negative side effects in hospitals.
Best Approach: Rigorous Hygiene
Perhaps the best attack against the superbugs is rigorous hygiene. Superbugs can be transmitted by doctors and nurses who have not properly washed their hands and by ventilators and catheters that have not been cleaned properly.
Dr.Tierno says the Scandinavian countries serve as a model. There, hospitals are known for meticulously cleaning and disinfecting rooms and equipment between patients, for testing incoming patients for superbugs to ensure they are not bringing anything in to the hospital, and for taking simple steps such as making sure beds don't butt up against each other so infections don't spread. Another important strategy: No routine use of antibiotics so that infections don't become resistant to any particular one.
Eight Superbugs That Could Kill You
MRSA -- Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
Strep A, which releases toxins that can shut down organs. But others are infected with the strain that turns into flesh eating disease. The fastest way to stop it is to cut the skin off. Mortality Rate: About 28%.
Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus
Resistant Klebsiella Pneumonia
Resistant Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
Resistant E. coli
Resistant Acinetobacter Baumannii