6:39 PM EST, November 29, 2012
Superbugs, or deadly bacteria that defy the most potent antibiotics, are starting to invade hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, superbugs have spread through hospitals in 41 states, including Indiana.
Dr. Elaine Cox is the director of infection prevention at Riley and IU Health.
“And the problem is the development of new antibiotics is way behind how the bugs are mutating,” said Dr. Cox. “So our fear is that we will end up with bugs that none of the current antibiotics that we have now will treat and there won't be enough in the pipeline to come quickly enough.”
A deadly superbug outbreak at the National Institutes of Health that began last summer claimed its seventh victim this September. The drug resistant bacteria killed a young boy who had a bloodstream infection.
Dr. Cox said the current protocol to stop the spread of a superbug in a hospital is by isolating the patient.
“I think one challenge for us is identifying these germs that have resistance patterns quickly enough to put people in the proper isolation,” Dr. Cox said.
Doctors said the germs are everywhere and can spread quickly. They say right now the best defense is good hospital hygiene and the most effective action a patient can do is simple.
“The big one still for us is washing your hands and that's true for people who aren't in the hospital,” Dr. Cox said. “The best way to avoid spreading these germs is washing your hands.”
Dr. Cox said doctors need to stop over prescribing antibiotics to patients that got us in this mess in the first place. She said the superbugs are super smart and mutate so quickly in patients that it’s hard to get in front of this trend.