Written by Loren Grush
Concern has been raised once again over the threat of deadly ‘superbugs,’ after a seventh individual at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., died Friday after contracting an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria.
According to the Washington Post, the boy from Minnesota contracted the bug while being treated at the hospital for complications from a bone marrow transplant. So far, he is the 19th patient at the NIH center to have contracted the bacteria – Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC). The bug’s outbreak was traced back to a single patient who was carrying the bacteria when he was admitted to the hospital in the summer of 2011.
While the NIH declined to be interviewed on the matter, the agency released a statement about the incident.
“We are deeply saddened by the deaths at the NIH Clinical Center related to [KPC],” the NIH said in a statement. “The health and welfare of patients is NIH's top priority, and NIH has – and will continue to – take every measure possible to protect patients at the Clinical Center and quell transmission.”
The NIH went on to add that “the Clinical Center is taking strong action to keep KPC from spreading further, redoubling its efforts to ensure that all the infection control and isolation strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are followed stringently.” They agency is also continuing to test for KPC and amp up their de-contamination procedures.
This latest death raises serious questions about the rise of bugs no longer treatable with antibiotics. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria has become a recent dilemma in the past few years. A notable example has been the rise of the “staph” germ known as MRSA - methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – which caused unease after the CDC reported 18,650 American deaths from MRSA in 2005.
According to infectious disease experts, both MRSA and KPC are results of the same problem – the overuse of antibiotics.