Friday, March 25, 2011

LA County hospitals keeping eye on 'superbug'

Super Bug
Health officials urged people not to panic over a drug-resistant germ present elsewhere in the country that has emerged in Los Angeles County hospitals and nursing homes.

About 350 infections of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, or CRKP, were reported over a seven-month period last year, according to a study by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Fifty-three percent of the infections came from acute care hospitals, 41 percent from long-term acute care hospitals and 6 percent from nursing homes.

The bacterium tends to strike elderly patients who often stay in facilities for an extended period of time. Infections also occur among sick patients on ventilators or who take long courses of antibiotics. Healthy people usually are not affected, according to health experts.

Since researchers did not look at how patients fared after getting infected, they did not know how many cases were fatal. They also could not tell whether patients transported the germ from a nursing home to a hospital or got infected while in the hospital.

CRKP is the latest antibiotic-resistant germ that hospitals across the United States are grappling with. Up until last year, hospitals and laboratories in the Los Angeles area never had to report cases of CRKP, which first appeared on the East Coast. Unlike other superbugs, CRKP so far has been confined to health care settings and has not spread into the community.

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