According to an inform presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a woman in Nevada who had a virus was prescribed with every available antibiotic in the United States with no effect. All the 26 medication products were useless as the woman died in September.
The woman, who had 70 years old, had just returned to the United States after a long journey to India, the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed. In that country, the woman was under exhaustive treatment and even visited local hospitals three times before coming back to the U.S. and receiving specialized care at a Nevada medical center in August.
The woman had broken one of her femurs in the mentioned visit to the Asian country, and had developed a bone infection that was qualified as “incurable”.
During the treatment, the local health authorities were warned about the fact that the woman was not responding effectively to any of the antibiotics, which were all the ones available in the country. These antibiotics included every type of aminoglycosides, polymyxins, and tigecycline (which is a tetracycline variant).
After the woman had passed away, the CDC determined that no drug in the U.S. could have stopped the patient’s disease and imminent death. The researchers have stated that this superbug could have been stopped with the use of an intravenous formulation of fosfomycin. The thing is that this particular method is not approved by the United States government.
“It was tested against everything that’s available in the United States … and was not effective. I think it’s concerning. We have relied for so long on just newer and newer antibiotics. But obviously the bugs can often [develop resistance] faster than we can make new ones,” Dr. Alexander Kallen, one of the authors of the official report told Stat. This news agency was the first one to cover the discovery of the new superbug.
The superbug threat
The CDC received a sample of the bug, and the Centers explained that it was found an enzyme called New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM). This enzyme is what makes bacteria so resistant to any kind of medicine including antibiotics.
The federal agency explained that this “pan-resistant” bug is usually very uncommon, and that “infection control contact precautions” are vital in these cases in which patients must be isolated.
According to Dr. James Johnson, a professor of infectious diseases medicine at the University of Minnesota and a specialist at the Minnesota VA Medical Center, this event concerning the superbug deathly performance is “the harbinger of future badness to come.”
The woman was hospitalized for having a carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infection, and further investigations showed that the microbe was a Klebsiella pneumoniae, which often causes urinary infections.
According to the CDC, CREs infections that are immune to every type of antibiotics are extremely rare, as 80% of them are susceptible to one aminoglycoside and almost 90% are vulnerable to tigecycline. The agency considers the antimicrobial resistance as “one of the most serious health threats” that the United States is currently facing.
The CDC Director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, has named the CREs infections the “nightmare bacterias”, as the danger they represent regarding a possible spread of antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is not common but alarming
Scientists from the health community are warning the national government about the dangers that this threat represents to the people. They said that authorities must take more seriously the antibiotic resistance issue. This statement was backed in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published this week.
In that report, the researchers stated that is urgent for local hospitals to start asking their incoming patients about visits they could have made to other countries and if they have been hospitalized in other foreign medical centers.
“If we’re waiting for some sort of major signal that we need to attack this internationally, we need an aggressive program, both domestically and internationally to attack this problem, here’s one more signal that we need to do that,” said Lance Price, who heads the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at George Washington University.
A specialized report published last year showed that a possible advance of the bacteria’s range could kill about 10 million people a year. In fact, in September, the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, held a “high-level” meeting regarding the consequences and likely actions to fight the antibiotic resistance threat.
Even when the medical precaution established were followed when taking care of the woman from Nevada, Dr. Johnson states that it’s likely that more cases of this superbugs start appearing shortly. There is, though, a slight possibility that this particular woman was contaminated in India, and because she is now dead, there is no danger at all. However, Johnson says that that scenario is pretty improbable.
There have been other cases in the United States regarding antibiotic resistant bacterias, and the scientific community is warning the government about how this could be a great danger to America and the world.