Eight Deadliest Superbugs Found Daily in Hospitals

Eight Deadliest Superbugs Found Daily in Hospitals
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Every year 48,000 Americans die from a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) -- an infection they DID NOT have when they entered. Increasingly, people are finding that hospitals are some of the worst places to be, as they are literally crawling with germs, some of them "superbugs" that are resistant to antibiotics and other treatments.

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Some of the worst infections are spread by medical procedures, contaminated equipment or the hands of hospital staff, including your physician.

In the largest nationally representative study to date, researchers revealed that both sepsis and pneumonia, two infections commonly acquired while in the hospital, are costing U.S. patients a staggering amount in increased health care costs and some are paying with their very lives.

Close to 20 percent of people, who developed sepsis after surgery, died -- a number made all the more tragic as sepsis is a bloodstream infection that is often preventable. It often occurs because medical equipment is not properly sterilized during surgery.

Many HAIs are the direct result of superbugs ... microbes that are becoming increasingly deadly and difficult to treat. Anup Malani, study co-author, investigator at Extending the Cure, and professor at the University of Chicago, said on EurekAlert.org:

"These superbugs are increasingly difficult to treat and, in some cases, trigger infections that ultimately cause the body's organs to shut down."

Eight Common Superbugs That Could be Lurking in Your Local Hospital

Worldwide superbugs account for more than 2.5 million infections, about 100,000 deaths and billions of dollars in medical costs each year, according to Dr. Philip Tierno, director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at the Langone Medical Center at New York University.

What are some common superbugs that could be lurking in your neck of the woodssuperbug

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What are some common superbugs that could be lurking in your neck of the woods?

  1. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)

    MRSA kills up to 20,000 Americans each year -- which is a greater death toll than AIDS, which took just over 14,500 lives in 2007. Not only is MRSA resistant to methicillin, which includes penicillin and related antibiotics, but it's beginning to become resistant to newer antibiotics as well.

    If you carry MRSA on your skin without being sick (which happens regularly in about 30 percent of people), you are said to be "colonized" with the bacteria. Though you may not be affected, you can pass the germs on to others.

    MRSA typically begins as a skin rash that resembles small pimples, boils or spider bites. The bumps then progress into deep abscesses that may require surgical draining. If the infection spreads beyond the skin, it can lead to infections in your bones, joints, bloodstream, heart and lungs.

  2. Resistant Streptococcus (Group A Strep)

    This bacteria commonly causes relatively mild illnesses like strep throat and impetigo, but when bacteria gets into blood, muscle or the lungs due to surgery or a wound it can lead to life-threatening, invasive infection, including necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) and Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS).

    Necrotizing fasciitis destroys skin, fat and muscle tissue while STSS leads to a rapid drop in blood pressure and organ failure. About 20 percent of people with necrotizing fasciitis and more than 50 percent of those with STSS will die.

  3. Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus (VRE)

    Enteroccocci bacteria normally exist in your intestines and in the female genital tract. However, it can cause infections of the urinary tract, the bloodstream or in wounds.

    VRE are resistant to vancomycin, an antibiotic typically used to treat enteroccocci bacteria, making them very difficult to treat. This bacteria is often spread from person to person on the hands of caregivers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as via contaminated surfaces.

  4. Resistant Klebsiella Pneumonia

    Klebsiella are a type of gram-negative bacteria that can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infection, wound infection and meningitis. The infections are common in health care settings among patients with catheters or ventilators, as well as those taking long courses of antibiotics. 

    Klebsiella bacteria are spread via person-to-person contact, contaminated medical tools or during surgery. Some Klebsiella bacteria have become resistant to a class of antibiotics called carbapenems, which are typically the last line of defense in treating related infections.

  5. Resistant Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

    Another gram-negative bacteria, Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is commonly found in soil and water but if it enters your body it can cause infections in your lungs, kidneys or bloodstream. Infections can be particularly deadly in hospitalized patients with cancer, burns, and cystic fibrosis.

  6. Resistant E. coli

    A new strain of E. coli, ST131, has emerged that is increasingly resistant to fluoroquinolone and other antibiotics. Spread by infected feces that come in contact with food products, the bacteria can cause potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal illness and dehydration.

  7. Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter Baumannii

    Common in severely ill ICU patients or those who have had prolonged hospital stays, Acinetobacter Baumannii can be spread by catheter insertion or other invasive medical procedures. The bacteria have developed substantial antimicrobial resistance, making it increasingly difficult to treat. Mortality rates of associated infections approach 80 percent.

  8. C. Difficile (C. diff)

    Clostridium difficile is a bacteria that may cause intestinal disease. The bacteria reside in your gut, and most often infection occurs after a person receives antibiotics. Because antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in your gut, it's easy for C. diff to take over after the course is finished.

    C. diff is most common in people who have been in hospitals or other health care facilities, however there is also an aggressive, particularly toxic C. diff strain that has been infecting people who have not been in a hospital or taken antibiotics.

    C. diff bacteria is found in feces, and is easily spread from person to person. Because of this, hand-washing and meticulous cleaning are among the best methods to cut down on the spread of infection.

How to Protect Yourself While in the Hospital or Other Health Care Setting

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If you or a loved one is in the hospital, print out the "Form to Inform" below to help protect them from superbugs and other sources of hospital-acquired infections.

Careful attention to infection-control measures are essential for avoiding superbug infections in hospitals, but data uncovered by the Seattle Times suggests that many hospitals are not following basic procedures like hand-washing.

According to a review of hospital records, the Times found that in some hospitals only 40 percent of staff members wash their hands according to infection-control protocols, and even in the best cases only 90 percent compliance was found. This means that in the best-case scenario one out of 10 physicians, nurses or other health care workers you encounter could have contaminated hands ... and often it will be far more.

Doctors' clothing, from ties to white coats, can also be reservoirs for germs, harboring numerous strains of bacteria that are easily transferred from patient to patient.

This is why if you have a loved one or you are in a hospital, doctor's office or nursing home we recommend you print off this "Form To Inform" to help better protect your health:

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