Bacteria becoming more resistant to treatments

More than 2 million people in the U.S. are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 of them die as a result.
MCT Regional News
Apr 7, 2014

The fight is on against nearly 20 types of bacteria becoming more resistant to antibiotic drugs.

This is a concern to local and national health officials who say it’s becoming harder to treat infections caused by these bacteria, including the common MRSA infection — Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus — and Clostridium difficille that causes diarrhea.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates more than 2 million people in the U.S. are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 dying as a result.

This growing concern led the CDC to publish its first “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States” report in 2013. The report categorizes 18 different bacteria into three threat levels: urgent, serious or concerning.

“We are approaching a cliff. If we don’t take steps to slow or stop drug resistance, we will fall back to a time when simple infections killed people,” said Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

Topping the list of urgent threats is C. difficille, the diarrheal infection usually associated with antibiotic use, that causes at least 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths every year.

Infection control efforts in Butler County hospitals include in-depth processes for tracking and surveillance of bacteria, targeted use of antibiotics, and deploying ultraviolet technology to kill bacteria and viruses.

“The best thing is to know your enemy,” said Jenny Green, infection control practitioner at Fort Hamilton Hospital. “Smart bugs have changed their DNA and mutated.”

Green said the hospital has a “robust surveillance process” for tracking and treating multi-drug resistant organisms, and has started utilizing DNA diagnostics technology available within the Kettering Health Network at Kettering Medical Center.

The TEM-PCR technology (Target Enriched Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction) — available through partnership with the Alabama company Diathermix — takes only six hours to determine the DNA of organisms.

Green said this has dramatically cut down the three to four days it used to take to identify the bacteria and determine the best mode of treatment. She said having a quick DNA test helps to identify the narrow-spectrum drug needed to treat the bacteria.

Green said as fewer antibiotics are being produced, hospitals have to “devise other strategies” to best treat patients with infections. Those strategies include a decreased use in broad spectrum antibiotics that can further foster the germ’s resistance.

“It’s a great patient satisfier if they don’t need to be in isolation,” Green said.

West Chester Hospital in January began using new ultraviolet technology to kill bacteria, viruses and other pathogens found within patient and operating rooms. The machine runs for under an hour, and the room must be cleared of people and sealed off due to the extreme UV lights.

Along with its 2013 report, the CDC outlined four core actions to fight the spread of antibiotic resistance: prevent infections from happening and prevent resistant bacteria from spreading; track resistant bacteria; improve the use of antibiotics; and promote the development of new antibiotics and new diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria.

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By Hannah Poturalski - Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

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