Superbugs Could Be On Way To America, CDC Warns

Superbugs could be on their way into the United States, the CDC (Centers For Disease Control) warns.





Superbugs: What’s The Story?

Efforts to eradicate antibiotic-resistant bacteria have found hundreds of germs carrying unusual genes that could lead to a superbug epidemic, warns the CDC.

In 2017, a new nationwide testing program found 221 cases of antibiotic-resistance genes. These genes developed in bacteria causing illnesses in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities.

Health officials say these new bacteria must be contained quickly. If not,  it could lead to the rise of a deadly superbug resistant to all known antibiotics.


Superbugs: Current Status

2 million U.S. patients get infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and 23,000 die from their infection.

To attack antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the CDC has developed a nationwide lab network. This lab provides quick analysis of bacteria samples forwarded by state and local health departments.

One out of every four germ samples sent to the lab for testing in 2017 carried special genes that allow them to spread their resistance to other germs. These have to be stopped quickly before they can share their genes with other bacteria.


Superbugs: CDC Containment Strategy


The CDC’s containment strategy calls for:

  • rapid identification of resistance
  • assessing infection controls in health care facilities
  • testing patients without symptoms who may carry and spread the germ
  • continuous infection-control assessment until the bacteria have stopped spreading
The CDC noted two recent instances where the strategy paid off:

  • In Tennessee, public health officials found an unusual resistance germ in a patient who had been treated outside the United States. They did a comprehensive investigation within 48 hours, preventing further spread of the bug.
  • In Iowa, the health department screened 30 nursing home patients after identifying an unusual resistance germ in one patient. They determined the germ may have spread to five other people. Infection controls stopped further spread.



Increased detection and aggressive early response to emerging antibiotic resistance threats have the potential to slow further spread. Right now the CDC aggressive response is holding the fort, but constant vigilance is necessary.

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