Superbug? Open and say, “Oh, no!”

As many as 179 patients may have been exposed to a drug-resistant strain of bacteria – known as a superbug – during endoscopic procedures at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center last week due to the difficulty in sterilizing a complicated piece of medical equipment.

What happened?

Two duodenscopes inserted down patients’ throats to diagnose and treat pancreatic and bile duct issues may have exposed patients to carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae even though they had been cleaned according to manufacturer’s specifications, according to Reuters. The two instruments have been removed from service and other equipment is now being more rigorously decontaminated, but the infections may have contributed to two deaths, the agency reported.

The issue is not a new one

In addition to buttressing concerns about the lack of proper sterilization of complex medical equipment – occurring in Seattle, Chicago and Pittsburg over the last two years – the most recent outbreak highlights the growing threat of bacteria that do not respond to standard anti-bacterial treatment.

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Is There An Antibiotic To The Rescue?

Is there any new drug that can save us from the current status of resistant antibiotics? Most are scared and feeling hopeless. Some, however, believe perhaps so—maybe there’s a “miracle” cure?

It’s been a while since doctors and scientists warned us about the perils of misusing antibiotics. Because of overprescribing and administering drugs improperly, some bacteria have become resistant to antibiotic use. This trend has created the more-than-often, invincible, Superbug.

The Superbug is Super Bad

Bacteria can change form and mutate. And that’s exactly what has happened in our public health arena. The antibiotics we once used to kill off infection now do not have the ability to fight of the Superbug.

What’s a Superbug? Basically, it’s a bacteria that can’t be killed even using multiple antibiotics. Each year, at least two million people experience an infection that cannot be cured. Of those stricken, approximately 25,000 die. FYI, any bacteria, in theory, and unfortunately in reality, can turn into a Superbug. The most common is MRSA (both community and hospital acquired.)

Another FYI: You can get a non-curable bacterial infection from a paper-cut. This is not a “disease” caught from risk-taking action in foreign lands. You can get a drug-resistant bacterial infection in your dentist’s office, at your local gym, or from a door handle.

This is a serious problem. If we think back to times before antibiotics were developed, people commonly lost limbs, organs, and lives to bacterial infections. Penicillin was discovered in 1929, but it really wasn’t until the 1940s that this type of medication was available and administered.

Now we have a situation where researchers and health experts are scrambling to keep up with an antibiotic that is as powerful as today’s Superbug. Back in the 1970s, this happened with penicillin—strep pneumonia and many venereal diseases became resistant. Then in 1999, a new class of antibiotics called Oxazolidinones, were invented. But these, too, have lost their effectiveness against certain bacteria.

A New Discovery That May Be Super Good

Often, the pharmaceutical industry will take an existing antibiotic and reformulate it to keep up with the bacterial mutations. This is what scientists are now doing with vancomycin. The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California has modified vancomycin to boost its potency. Their newest study is the third modification that’s been made to that drug.

The lead scientist, Dr. Roger Boger believes the newest formation of vancomycin offers a dramatic increase in effectiveness. It’s currently being used to treat the most powerful bacterial infections and seems to be working. It’s one of the only medications giving MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureu) a run for its money.

In layman’s terms, MRSA is basically a Staph infection that you can get anywhere, and won’t go away—at all. This updated formulation of vancomycin may just be the help doctors and patients have been seeking.

Take Nothing, Especially Antibiotics, For Granted

Just because this new study presents great news on the fight against the bacterial infection front right now, doesn’t mean it solves a larger problem. Infectious organisms are ever-changing, which means we continually have to keep a step ahead. Scientists will always need to discover new agents, as well as reformulate and update old ones.

It’s a continuous journey for infectious disease researchers. If they take a break, or rely on antibiotics as they stand currently, it will mean that the bacteria will mutate and out-run us. This will occur especially because of unfortunate ongoing practices by certain doctors and patients.

Here are some steps to take to help keep you, your family, and the public healthy from incurable infections:

  • Take your medicine as prescribed. Take the full course of antibiotics even if you’re feeling better halfway through.
  • Do not take antibiotics for a virus. They will not work. They will also lower your resistance in the future when you actually need antibiotics for a bacterial infection.
  • Don’t force your doctor to give you antibiotics if he/she doesn’t recommend them.
  • Don’t use leftover antibiotics from a course from a previous infection
  • Practice clean living habits such as: eating healthy, sleeping well, exercising, and being hygienic.

Smart use of antibiotics and mindful living are key factors in controlling the spread of drug resistance. It’s hopeful when we hear news of treatments that can conquer “untreatable” conditions. Doing our part, can only help keep that hope alive and thriving. Check out GetThrive.com for other pertinent articles on today’s health concerns and benefits.

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/AntibioticsandAntibioticResistance/default.htm

http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/05/30/Scientists-boost-power-of-vancomycin-against-resistant-superbugs/4451496167011/?utm_source=fp&utm_campaign=ts&utm_medium=13

http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/antibiotics/history.htm

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20150417/superbugs-what-they-are#1

http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2004/2004-12/2004-12-4835

 

Farmers Developing “Superbug” Infections

It’s already been established that farmers and workers at hog production facilities can acquire bacteria in their noses. A recent study, however, shows that they are actually at increased risk of infection. Many now have developed skin infections from “superbugs,” which, is a frightening predicament.

What’s a Superbug?

It’s not a real bug; it’s an indestructible form of bacteria. The superbug has emerged from the overuse of antibiotics. Bacteria has mutated and become more powerful with each line of antibiotic defense we’ve invented. What’s happened now is that the bug has become stronger than the medicine.

The superbug has become drug-resistant.

It appears we are unable to fight what was once an ordinary staph infection. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can be acquired at gyms, in the hospital, or anywhere germs can grow and multiply easily.

Back in May, Thrive’s founder, Dr. Dave Campbell, weighed-in on the superbug topic. Click here to watch his appearance and discussion on MSNBC.

Without creating alarm, it is still important to understand that each year, around the world, approximately 700,000 people die from superbug infections.

Hog Facility Workers

Those who work in the hog farming business have been urged to wear masks when in the production facility. Pigs are given antibiotics, so they don’t fall ill and grow faster. Due to overuse, bacteria has become resistant, and infections are not responding to medicinal treatment.

So, it appears that humans are at risk from working in these types of environments. This particular research even shows that family members of the workers have contracted untreatable staph infections as well.

The participants in the study (over 100 hog facility workers and 80 children in their households) had their noses swabbed for bacteria. The study revealed that 44 percent of the workers and 39 percent of their household members had staph. Almost half of those infected were multi-drug resistant.

Those with livestock-facility borne staph in their noses were five times more likely to have a skin or soft-tissue infection. Those who were already multidrug-resistant were almost 10 times more likely to develop “incurable” skin infections.

It Doesn’t Have to Be So Bleak

Prescribers of antibiotics need to be vigilant about not over-prescribing. Antibiotic users should absolutely complete doses. We can support food producers who do not use antibiotics or growth hormones in their livestock and products. We can also support research that deigns to discover new ways to battle the superbug.

 

 

 

Get A Wiff of This Superbug Killer

Scientists may be on an antibiotic that can defeat the superbug—and the bacteria to formulate the drug is in your nose!

Don’t Get a Tissue

Antibiotics that currently exist are increasingly becoming less effective. Many bacteria and bugs have become drug-resistant. Hence, the creation of the superbug—illnesses we cannot fight naturally or with modern medicines. Researchers in Germany, however, have discovered a bacteria that lives in the human nose, which may help revolutionize antibiotics.

Smell’s Good

The bacteria found in people’s noses is called Staphylococcus lugdunin NSIS. That particular strain produces a chemical called lugdunin. Lugdunin can fight off other strong bacteria. Additionally, lugdunin doesn’t appear to be prone to developing resistance.

Antibiotic-resistant bugs are becoming an enormous problem for doctors and their patients. Drugs that used to be able to kill common bacteria are no longer active. We’ve had to develop stronger antibiotic strains, but. Unfortunately, the bugs seem to be getting stronger.

Serious Stuff

The findings from this research are enormously valuable at this time. We need newer and more powerful antibiotics, but there aren’t many options. Development of drugs is slow and perhaps not funded as well as it should be. The need for a medicine that can take on the superbug is crucial.

Currently, MRSA (the superbug) can be deadly. MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It used to be that an ordinary Staph infection was treated simply and more efficiently. Now, it’s possible, that if you develop a Staph infection, especially a hospital-acquired one, it can be life-threatening.

Around the world, approximately 700,000 people die each year from a superbug. Without a line of defense in antibiotics, it is expected that death tolls will rise exponentially. Superbugs, without a fight, will cause more deaths than cancer—possibly by the next decade.

Where There’s Hope…

We may find a solution—hopefully, sooner than later. Using the human body as a new place to mine for microbes is a brilliant idea. Our microbiota could conceivably provide a source to invent and develop a medicinal army to fight against pathogens.

The director of the World Health Organization explains that these drug-resistant pathogens travel quickly across the globe. Perhaps if we paid more attention to food trade and transportation, we could slow the spread.

In the meanwhile, there are ways that humans can help keep more pathogens from becoming drug-resistant. We can be mindful of our antibiotic use. If we are stricken with a virus, such as the flu, an antibiotic is useless. Taking less than the full amount prescribed can also cause a future immunity to the drug. Keep in mind, too that many of the animal products we eat have been given antibiotics.

The bottom line is that it is time to take action. We do not want society to revert to the days before antibiotics were invented. That may happen if we let the superbug grow.

Dr. Dave Campbell Weighs-In On the Superbug

On Friday, May 27, Thrive Founder, Dr. Dave Campbell, was invited to MSNBC’s Morning Joe Show to speak on the topic of the new superbug that has been found in the United States. A strain of the superbug was detected in the urine of a 49-year-old woman from Pennsylvania in April. It was determined that she possessed a strain of E. coli which is resistant to the antibiotic colistin – often used to treat the condition.

In response to this report, show host Joe Scarborough asked Dr. Campbell for his perspective.

It’s not just us….this is a worldwide issue that the world has to approach as a big, large organization and community,” said Dr. Campbell.

There are new health issues all the time, right? So why does this particular health concern have medical professionals from across the globe taking notice? Simply put, there is no current antidote to the superbug. According to a Washington Post article, “colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly dangerous types of superbugs, including a family of bacteria known as CRE, which health officials have dubbed ‘nightmare bacteria.’”

The report goes on to state that up to 50% of those infected with superbugs like this die. It should come as no surprise that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified CRE as one of the most urgent public health threats today.

Until now, no instances of CRE had been identified in the United States. Medical professionals worry that the effectiveness of antibiotics could become less powerful in days to come. The greatest concern is how any potential spread could impact the population at-large. Without a proven way to medically combat CRE, lesser illnesses could blossom into something more potent, and possibly life-threatening.

Since bacteria begin mutating over time in an effort to withstand antibiotics, our ability to keep up with new treatments is key. The medical community attempts to remain one step ahead, but as you can see, in unique situations like this, that is not always possible.

So, what can you do? Maintaining a common sense approach to your health and well-being is always the right place to start. Watch what you eat. Remain physically active. Wash your hands regularly. Limit travel to undeveloped parts of the world, and take every recommended precaution when you must visit these places.

Remember: a single case of a superbug is not cause for panic. There is no pending outbreak on the horizon. It is important to stay abreast of what’s going on, and how the area you live in may or may not be affected.

And finally, keep up with Thrive. We stay up-to-date with the topics impacting our world today so that we can keep you informed on a regular basis.