Recent News Reports about VRE, Hospital-Acquired Infections and Antibiotic-Resistant Infections


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    This page contains notes and references from news reports about hospital-acquired infections and antibiotic-resistant infections.

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    Hospital Curtains Could Harbor MRSA, Study Finds [2011] - University of Iowa researchers swabbed 43 hospital curtains several times a week for three weeks to get 180 samples, and found that 26 percent of the curtains had MRSA on them and 44 percent of them had the bacteria Enterococcus on them, according to the study.

Staph superbug often a menace at care facilities [6/25/07] - Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus may be infecting as many as 5 percent of hospital and nursing home patients, according to a comprehensive study.

Superbugs more widespread than thought

    Staph superbug often a menace at care facilities [6/25/07] - Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus may be infecting as many as 5 percent of hospital and nursing home patients, according to a comprehensive study.

    Superbugs more widespread than thought

    Step up the superbug battle, CDC tells hospitals - 10/19/06 - Hospitals need to step up efforts to prevent infections with drug-resistant "superbugs," which are becoming more and more of a threat to patients, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

    MRSA superbug found in baby ward of flagship hospital - Four babies were found to be carrying MRSA at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

    Virulent staph germ once confined to hospitals emerging in jails, gyms and schools [2/26/06] " There are few statistics on the disease, because resistant staph infections are not routinely reported to the CDC. But one study published last year in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases estimated there were about 126,000 cases from 1999 to 2000 — twice the number of hepatitis B cases each year."

    From Emerging Infectious Diseases: Antimicrobial Resistance Determinants and Future Control by Stephan Harbarth; Matthew H. Samore [June, 2005] [Medscape registration is free]

        "Antibiotic therapy, if indiscriminately used, may turn out to be a medicinal flood that temporarily cleans and heals, but ultimately destroys life itself."    Felix Marti-Ibanez, 1955

    "At the beginning of the 21st century, antimicrobial resistance is common, has developed against every class of antimicrobial drug, and appears to be spreading into new clinical niches"

    Medical errors edging up in US, study finds - 5/2/05 -  WASHINGTON, May 2 (Reuters) - Hospital-acquired infections are worsening in the United States, even though the problem is widely recognized, according to a report issued on Monday. . . .Such infections include antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are very difficult to treat, including staphylococcus and streptococcus infections.

    Superbug kills two-day-old baby - Luke Day, born to Glynis Day, died at 36 hours from the MRSA superbug in Ipswich on 2/2/05

    Superbugs kill mum 11 weeks after birth - Jacqui Munro, 28, died from a flesh-eating bug after having her daughter Rachael by Caesarean at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow.

    Several hundred women die every year in the United States from hospital-acquired infections, but it's so hush-hush here that we rarely hear about them.  In particular, I know of a maternal death at our local hospital, but the story never appeared in the news.

    Dangerous Germ Becoming More Common By Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer, 4/7/05 - A comprehensive analysis of these methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections found that 8% to 20% were community acquired.

    Outbreaks of Pertussis Associated with Hospitals --- Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, 2003 [1/28/05] from the CDC.

    Neckwear as germ-spreader? More than a stain on your tie - A new study provides a good lesson in cleanliness and could be a boon for the sale of tie clips and bow ties.  [By Damon Adams, AMNews staff. June 21, 2004.]

    What's new concerning vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)? Find out in this easy-to-navigate collection of recent MEDLINE abstracts compiled by the editors at Medscape Infectious Diseases. [Medscape, 2000. © 2000 Medscape, Inc.]

    Association Between Method of Delivery and Maternal Rehospitalization
    Mona Lydon-Rochelle, MPH, PhD, CNM; Victoria L. Holt, MPH, PhD; Diane P. Martin, MA, PhD; Thomas R. Easterling, MD
    JAMA - Vol. 283 No. 18, May 10, 2000 [not yet in Medline]
    "Conclusions - Women with cesarean and assisted vaginal deliveries were at increased risk for rehospitalization, particularly with infectious   morbidities."

    Emerging Infections -- Another Warning from The New England Journal of Medicine - Editorial -- April 27, 2000 -- Vol. 342, No. 17 - "On a good day, we hold them at bay. On a bad day, they're winning,'' said Dr. Michael Osterholm.

    Resistant Bacteria Now Acquired from the Community

    CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly ReportAugust 20, 1999 / 48(32);707-710

    Four Pediatric Deaths from Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus -- Minnesota and North Dakota, 1997-1999

    08/20/99 - CDC Reports on Drug-Resistant Staph

    CDC Reports on Drug-Resistant Staph
    ATLANTA (AP) _ Federal health officials have confirmed the deaths of four Midwestern children linked to drug-resistant staph infections they acquired outside a hospital setting.
    Drug-resistant staph was once largely confined to hospitals and nursing homes, but the children's deaths in Minnesota and North Dakota show it may be spreading to communities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
    ``These are the first deaths we're aware of that have appeared in the United States and in medical literature,'' said Dr. J. Todd Weber of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases. ``How rare or how common it is, we don't know yet.''
    The children, ages 1 to 13, acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections between 1997 and 1999. None of the children had been recently hospitalized before their deaths, the CDC said.
    Staph bacteria are the No. 1 cause of hospital-acquired infections in the United States, blamed for 13 percent of the 2 million hospital infections annually.
    Half of staph bacteria infections contracted by hospital patients in 1997 were resistant to a large class of antibiotics, up from 1974, when only 2 percent were drug-resistant, the CDC said.

    Death from Vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA) in April, 1999 - report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

    Antibiotic Resistance in Canada - Deadly germ now resistant to 'superbug' drugs - New strains of bacteria multiplying across Canada


    'Supergerm' Kills Hong Kong Woman

    A strain of staphylococcus aureus that cannot be controlled with even the strongest antibiotics killed a middle-aged Hong Kong woman.  This is the third reported case of vancomycin-resistant staph.

               ``We are getting into the terminal stage. It is very dangerous; the bacteria have broken the last defense,'' Yuen Kwok-yung, a  microbiologist at the hospital and the University of Hong Kong, was  quoted as telling the newspaper.
               For several years, doctors have been warning of the emergence of  drug-resistant bacteria. Bacteria become more deadly as they mutate  to survive increasing potent drugs.
               Yuen told the Post that a decade earlier, Hong Kong doctors  discovered a case of streptococcus pneumonia that was resistant to  penicillin, but now 70 percent of the cases here are resistant.

    Enterobacter cloacae Bloodstream Infections Associated with Contaminated Prefilled Saline Syringes -- California, November 1998

    U.S. disease experts want better ``superbug'' watch
    Reuters - May 14, 1998

      Virtually all strains of the common staph bacterium are now resistant to penicillin, other bugs are
      rapidly developing drug-resistant forms, . . .

      Despite repeated warnings that soon some infections would emerge that no drugs could treat, no one has taken concerted action, he said, and the U.S. government is not helping.

      ``Antibiotic-resistant bacteria generate a minimum of $4 billion to $5 billion in costs to U.S. society and individuals yearly, and in 1992 the 19,000 deaths directly caused by hospital-acquired infections made them the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. population,'' they wrote.

    Intrapartum Administration of Ampicilln Prophylaxis in GBS Mothers May Raise Risk of Neonatal E. coli Infection
    Ob.Gyn.News April 15, 1998
    Despite aggressive treatment, six babies died of fulminant early-onset E. coli infection during the entire study period; all six had ampicillin-resistant organisms, and the mothers of four had received intrapartum ampicillin.

    Superbugs take hold
    New Scientist - 25 April 1998
    David Livermore, [director of Britain's PHLS's Antibiotic Reference Unit] says his team has found a strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa resistant to "just about everything", including the current antibiotics of last resort, carbapenems. 

    Flesh-Eating Bacteria

    In an article dated March 11, 1998, the Tri-City Herald (in Washington state) reported that a new mother died from necrotizing fascitis.  "Norma Orozco, 21, had delivered a baby at Our Lady of Lourdes Health Center and was healthy when she left the hospital. . . .  "  She returned to the hospital 1 1/2 days later (Feb. 28) and was diagnosed with necrotizing fascitis; emergency surgery was performed to try to halt the progress of the infection.  She was then transported on March 1 to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.  "She arrived in critical condition and died Thursday [3/5], according to Harborview spokesman Larry Zalin."

    The site of the infection was the episiotomy wound.  This is particularly tragic because episiotomies are rarely indicated, and this woman's death was probably preventable.  Even when tearing does occur, the wound is less extensive and heals better, with less infection.  Many midwives report a suture rate around 15%.

    It is imperative that women ask their care providers three questions:

    1. What is their episiotomy rate?
    2. What is their suturing rate for either episiotomies or tearing?
    3. What are they doing to reduce their suturing rate?
    The Midwife Archives contains more information about assisting women in giving birth without suffering a perineal wound.  (Mirror site for the Midwife Archives.)

    Moms Contract Flesh-Eating Disease During Cesaran Sections - Tuesday, 28 August 2001 15:24 (ET)

    Strep A Oubreak in Texas
    Austin American-Statesman,  February/March, 1998

    Tissue-destroying bacterium kills S.C. college freshman
    The August Chronicle Online, March 12, 1998
    The same bacterium causing the Texas outbreak turns up in South Carolina.

    Testing continues for flesh-eating bacteria in a Quebec Obstetrics Ward
    Montreal Gazette, December 15, 1997
    Seventy new mothers and newborns and eighty hospital employees are being tested for the deadly strain of streptococcus A which killed one new mother and has infected another in a Quebec hospital.

    Woman dies from flesh-destroying bacteria
    Rochester, New York, August 12, 1997
    Woman dies from infection acquired at the time of a Cesarean section 

    Drug-resistant gonorrhea identified
    Thursday May 28 6:18 PM EDT - UPI Science News

    Get ready for more superbugs, disease experts say

    New drug-resistant "superbugs," bacteria that defy all known antibiotics, are virtually certain to pop up soon unless doctors and hospitals crack down on procedures, health experts said Tuesday. Careless use of antibiotics and slipshod hygiene were almost certainly responsible for the rise of bacteria that resist the last-defense drugs - methicillin and vancomycin - they said. "We've seen dramatic increases ... in the past decade," said Dr. William Jarvis, acting director of the hospital infections program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. See

    Hospital infections, drug resistance rise in U.S.

    March 11, 1998 - Reuters - Mike Cooper

      The rate at which patients pick up an infection while being treated in a U.S. hospital has increased 36 percent in the past 20 years.  Dr. William Jarvis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told researchers at an international conference on emerging infectious diseases,  ``We estimate that today 2 million patients develop a hospital-acquired infection in the United States each year. Of that number, 90,000 die as a result of those infections.''  [This is more than all accidental deaths in the U.S.]

      There were 9.77 hospital-acquired infections per 1,000 patient-days in 1995, compared with 7.18 in 1975, Jarvis said.

      He said the rate had risen in part because hospitals were using more invasive procedures -- using breathing tubes and intravenous catheters, for example -- to treat patients.

      Not only are hospital patients at increased risk for infection but the infectious diseases are increasingly resistant to drugs commonly used to treat them.

      ``In at least 70 percent of the hospital-acquired infections that occur, the organism is resistant to at least one antibiotic. In 35 to 40 percent of infections, the organism is actually resistant to the best drug you would use to treat that organism,'' Jarvis said.

    Study finds rise in infection rate in U.S. hospitals
    CJ Online, Topeka KS - Thursday, March 12, 1998

    U.S. hospital infection rate on the rise since 1975
    News-Star Online -  March 12, 1998

    Newborns Infected by Rare Dog Yeast Carried by Health Care Workers

    Outbreak of hospital yeast infection traced to dogs
    The News & Observer on the Web - March 11, 1998

    UPI Science News, March 11, 1998

      Federal health researchers found pet dogs of health care workers probably were the source of an epidemic of yeast infections in an intensive care nursery. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine says the workers spread the infections to infants after petting their dogs at home.
    An epidemic of Malassezia pachydermatis in an intensive care nursery associated with colonization of health care workers' pet dogs.
    Chang HJ, Miller HL, et al.
    N Engl J Med 1998 Mar 12;338(11):706-711 

    Overuse of antibiotics in the former Soviet Union causes proliferation of resistant bacteria
    October, 1997

    100% of Bay Area Hospitals Surveyed Infected with VRE
    San Francisco Examiner, Sept. 14, 1997
    Resistant bacteria on rise in Bay hospitals
    Once-benign bug has mutated into potential killer

    Abstract of Bay Area Study from California Department of Health Services

    Overview of Vancomycin-Resistant Staph.

    Third U.S. Case of Vancomycin-Resistant Staph. - March, 1998
    For some reason, this case wasn't widely reported in the media.

    Superbugs Evolve in the Hospital Setting; Lead Doctor in Japanese VISA Report Delves Into Mystery of Strain's Emergence
    Japan reports 25 different strains of resistant staph - Sept. 30, 1997

    Second case of resistant staph reported in the U.S. - August, 1997 - New Jersey - Another Report - [LARGE FILE - CDC Report - (259KB)]

    First case of resistant staph reported in the U.S. - July, 1997 - Michigan - Another Report - And Another Report - [CDC Report]

    First case of resistant staph identified in Japan - June, 1996 - [CDC Report]

    Bacteria growing immune to last-ditch defenses
    In other words, we have to accept that bugs, not us, are unstoppable.
    Editorial by Elizabeth Jarnagin, Amarillo Globe-News, Web posted 5/30/97

    Four Newborn Deaths at Children's Hospital in Boston

    Nursery Fungal Infection Kills Three Babies

    WHO Calls For Curtailment Of Antibiotic Use In Animals (Oct. 22, 1997)

    Additional Stories

    Scientists assessing threat from bacteria lurking in hospitals
    Laura Beil/The Dallas Morning News, September 20, 1997

    Article about antibiotic-resistant bacteria and emerging diseases, such as Ebola and hantavirus.

    New antibiotic-resistant bacteria worrying hospitals
    Los Angeles Times (The Detroit News), February 21, 1996

    Natural Born Killers
    by David Petechuk and Mark Collins
    Disease-causing microbes, once considered near extinction, are returning with a fury — and scientists are fighting back.

    Abstract of Bay Area Study from California Department of Health Services

    Surveillance for Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE), San Francisco Bay Area, 1993-96. JON ROSENBERG, DUC VUGIA, WILLIAM JARVIS for the California Emerging Infections Program. California Department of Health Services, Berkeley, CA, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

    After conducting testing to determine the proficiency of hospital laboratories in detecting vancomycin resistance in enterococci, we initiated active laboratory-based surveillance for clinical isolates of VRE at 30 laboratories serving 33 general acute care hospitals in three San Francisco Bay area counties in January 1995. Laboratories were surveyed by questionnaire for the occurrence of clinical isolates for 1993-94. Laboratories were capable of detecting high- and moderate-level resistance to vancomycin. The number of hospitals reporting >= 1 patient clinical isolate was 1 (3%) in 1993, 7 (21%) in 1994, 31 (94%) in 1995, and 33 (100%) in 1996. The number of patient isolates increased from 20 in 1994 to 171 in 1995, and to 425 in 1996. The majority of isolates, 62% in 1995 and 57% in 1996, were from urine, and were not associated with serious clinical disease. However, the number of isolates from blood increased from 9 (6% of total) in 1995 to 44 (11.5% of total) in 1996. In the 20 laboratories reporting total enterococcal isolates tested for vancomycin susceptibility in 1995, 101 (1.3%) of 7521 isolates were resistant. These data show that VRE emerged and increased in number among many San Francisco Bay Area hospitals in 1994-96. The increasing prevalence of clinical isolation of VRE can be viewed as a sentinel event, predictive of future increases in serious clinical infections unless measures are taken to prevent the spread of vancomycin resistance in this area.

    Four Newborn Deaths at Children's Hospital in Boston

    Two different reports about four newborn deaths at Children's Hospital in Boston:

    From: (UPI)

    Subject: Bacteria probed in infant deaths

    Organization: Copyright 1997 by United Press International

    Date: Mon, 15 Sep 1997 6:31:33 PDT

    BOSTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Public health officials say a fast-killing and previously unknown strain of a common bacteria has killed four newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Hospital in Boston.

    The deaths occurred in just over a month this summer, and officials suspect it may have been responsible for another infant's death last year.

    The hospital's Dr. Edward O'Rourke said it ``appears to be a strain we have not dealt with before.''

    State health official Dr. Bela Matyas says ``we are assuming we are dealing with a new strain.''

    He said there have been no reports of this strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa at other neonatal units, and that it is ``behaving quite unusually.''

    Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit was closed to new admissions on Aug. 29 and will remain closed until at least the middle of the week.

    Officials reported the four infants that died this summer were already critically ill when they contracted the bacteria.

    The state Department of Public Health and the hospital today are investigating whether the strain was found in at least three other infants on the ward who did not die.

    The 16-bed unit admits up to 600 extremely ill babies a year.

    Officials say the outbreak has not spread to other units at the hospital, even though the bacteria was detected on the hands of several workers.

    Experts say Pseudomonas is a common bacteria found in moist soil. It is often carried to humans on vegetables and fruit, but seldom makes healthy people sick.

    It is particularly harmful to premature infants or those with weakened immune systems. [Editor's Note - All newborns have an immature immune system. This is why hospitals recommend that newborns be kept away from hospitals except in an emergency.]

    San Jose Mercury News, Tuesday, September 16, 1997, page 5A:

    Infant deaths have doctors focusing on bacterium

    Doctors are trying to figure out how to fight an aggressive strain of bacteria that has killed four babies this summer at Boston's Children's Hospital.

    The culprit appears to be an aggressive strain of the pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, a common bug that infects thousands of critically ill patients every years and is especially dangerous to premature babies.

    To contain the infection, the hospital temporarily stopped accepting new patients into its intensive care unit for newborns; it was expected to reopen admissions this week. Researchers from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are monitoring the situation.

    In June, three babies at Grace Hospital in Detroit died after being infected with pseudomonas aeruginosa. That hospital closed its neonatal intensive care unit after the outbreak and reopened it in a different part of the building.

    The CDC said Monday that it had not received reports of any other outbreaks involving the same strain of bacteria in the past year. The bacterium is one of many organisms carried by people and is normally harmless except to those with weakened immune systems. In those people, it can cause a rapidly progressing infection in the blood.

    Edward O'Rourke, medical director of infection control at Boston's Children's Hospital, said it appeared that the organism entered the intensive care unit in February, when one infant became infected with it and recovered.

    The bacterium was passed, possibly on the hands of employees or on hospital equipment, to several other infants. O'Rourke said. Because Pseudomonas is a common cause of hospital infections, and the infants in the Children's Hospital unit are the sickest of the sick, the appearance of the bug and the deaths in July of two infected infants was considered unusual but not alarming.

    Nevertheless, the hospital began investigating and instituted stricter infection-control tactics. When a third infant died, in mid-August, still more measures were instituted. Hospital staff members were required to wash their hands with two types of anti-bacterial soap, and samples were taken repeatedly from the hands of employees. A fourth infant died within days of the third death.

    After the fourth death, uninfected infants in the intensive care unti were moved to other hospitals. Two babies who are infected with Pseudomonas but whose illness is under control remain at Children's for treatment, and are expected to survive.

    Infectious-disease experts at the hospital and investigators from the state public health department have removed and tested part of ceilings, plumbing and air ducts to check for the organism. And swabs were taken of the hands of employees in the intensive care unity. The bacterium was found on some employees' hands, but not on the equipment.

    The most common mode of transmission for infections in the hospital is is on the hands of staff members as they move from patient to patient, experts said.

    Pseudomonas is a mild infectious agent that emerges as a serious infection only in patients with severely depressed immune systems, like burn victims and infants born prematurely. In those patients, it can be fatal in as many as a third of the cases. [Editor's Note - All newborns have an immature immune system. This is why hospitals recommend that newborns be kept away from hospitals except in an emergency.]

    Of the 2 million hospital-caused infections in the United States each year, about 10 percent are caused by Pseudomonas, said Dr. William Trick, of the hospital epidemiology branch of the Centers for Disease Control. Pseudomonas is the fifth most common infection found in hospitals.


These web pages were originally composed by Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, in Sept., 1997.
They have been updated as new information has become available.

Permission to link to these pages is hereby granted.

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