image of bacteria, nightmare bacteria

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DC) have found bacteria resistant to virtually every known antibiotic in samples from hospitals around the country (MMWR, April 3, 2018). These so-called “nightmare bacteria” were found as part of an effort to analyze samples and detect resistance.

Looking for Carbapenem-Resistant Bacteria:

The CDC hopes to develop strategies to contain the spread of bacteria that are not susceptible to carbapenem and its relatives, considered antibiotics of last resort. That is why it analyzed data from the National Healthcare Safety Network between 2006 and 2015. The analyses showed that the percentage of infections caused by carbapenem-resistant bacteria has dropped during this time, from 10.6% in 2007 to 3.1% in 2015. The agency credits especially strict infection control programs for this decline.

Keeping Bacteria from Spreading Resistance:

Not all the news from this report is encouraging, however. Eleven percent of healthy people who were screened carried superbugs resistant to carbapenem. As a result, these carriers could unwittingly spread their dangerous germs to people with lowered immunity and therefore greater susceptibility to hard-to-treat infections. Such illnesses kill as many as half of those who become infected.

One worry about antibiotic-resistant bacteria is that they can share their scary superpower with other bacteria. In fact, the CDC found that one in four samples had genes that could allow them to spread antibiotic resistance to other microorganisms. That is what makes these bugs nightmare bacteria for public health officials.

Controlling Nightmare Bacteria:

The CDC proposes a containment strategy including stringent infection control measures and rapid identification of antibiotic resistance. It will be up to hospitals to implement much more rigorous infection-control strategies. If properly implemented, such procedures could save lives.

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  1. CV
    north carolina

    The irresponsible overuse of antibiotics (abx) is the common thread of these superbugs (or nightmare bacteria).

    I work in both a hospital and retail pharmacy setting. Unfortunately, I see healthcare providers (HPC) over prescribing abx just to get the patient out of their room.

    In the retail settings, many patients tell me they are only seen 5-7 minutes and the provider just leaves the room. Next thing they get is a prescription with no explanation/ description of use. (They just expect the providers communicate to the pharmacists their treatment plans/ purpose.)

    In the hospital settings, I often see the [SHOTGUN in the dark] approach to getting the patients out the Emergency Department. They don’t know the true ailing infection, but they just [guess] with the biggest gun with the hope of a hit in therapy.

    These HCP are comfortable because they are not held in accountability. There is no entity approaches them or their facilities of care to question their approach of care.

    Patients do not know to whom they may complain. They just hope their HCP have their best interests at heart.

  2. Dan

    Are there any studies that look at the correlation between antibiotic resistant bacteria and the rise of multiculturalism In the 1980s, I lived in Pasadena California. My frugal Scottish roommate had a job in downtown LA. At one point he decided to commute to work by bus. Some time the following year he came down with TB.

  3. Nancy

    I have observed in visiting doctors’ and dentists’ offices, hospitals, and emergency centers that the use of gloves seems more to be for the protection of staff against blood or germ contamination that might be picked up from the patient than for the protection of the patient. I rarely see anyone wash his hands before putting on gloves and often equipment and the glove-covered hands touch all sorts of items in the examining rooms with no regard to hygiene.

  4. mary

    As a professional working in hospitals years ago compared to visits today I see that hospitals overall are just not as clean as they once were. Hospitals did not have carpets for one thing and the hard surface floors were cleaned daily and thoroughly.
    Everyone wore clean white uniforms everyday. Not the colored or patterned ‘scrubs’ that might be worn for many days and who can tell how stained or germ laden they might be.

    While my Mother was in ICU her floor was not cleaned for days/a week. Under her bed were tops from syringes, bandage papers, other trash– and actual dust ‘kitties’ it was not cleaned for that long.
    She died not from why she was admitted but from these nightmare bacteria.
    Her pain was horrendous and we were not even allowed to hug her…………

  5. 0000

    Antibiotic resistant bacteria can be successfully treated with Phage therapy. It is specific for that particular bacteria. The problem is that the AMA, the hospital association and pharmaceutical companies do not want to use them, since there is no profit in it. You cannot patent phages since it is a natural bacteriophage.

  6. Marilyn

    I still continue to see my friends’ doctors giving out antibiotics often. They think most respiratory illnesses clear up within one week. They then insist on antibiotics and take them and report immediate relief in one or two days. They do however finish the refill or they fill antibiotic and do not take and hold onto it “just in case”. They seem to think color of nasal discharge is significant. I don’t request antibiotics and I have seen usual illnesses progress with changes in color that seem to mean nothing. Why is so much emphasis placed on color?

  7. Luke

    Something nobody ever talks about is that drug resistant bacteria is on practically all raw meat because antibiotics are used to stimulate rapid growth of animals — and they live in very filthy stressful environments tightly packed. “Organic meat” may use arsenic in the feed since arsenic is organic but it also stimulates rapid growth. Organic meat also contains drug resistant bacteria due to overcrowding conditions. Not only does MRSA, VRE, etc., is passed around due to their daily diet of antibiotics in their food and water, but they get C. Diff diarrhea which is drug resistant. People cut up their meat without gloving and gowning and spreads the infective materials onto their home surfaces and handle their kids spreading deadly bacteria from the meat to humans. Since the meat industry is a trillion-dollar a year industry in USA it is not going to change and drug resistant bacteria will spread

  8. Judi
    Port St. Lucie, Florida

    I wonder if colloidal silver might kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    • Marla

      I was thinking the same thing, Judi (colloidal silver).

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