ANTIBIOTICS: ‘Superbug’ Death Prompts CDC Warning
For the fourth time in three years, a vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus has been documented in a U.S. hospital patient, prompting CDC officials to reiterate their call for the judicious use of antibiotics, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. A 63-year-old patient who was treated with vancomycin, an extremely potent antibiotic commonly used as the last resort in treating bacterial infections, died after her heart infection failed to clear. Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC's Hospital Infections Program, said this latest case was "a heads-up, alerting us that there may be a new problem on the horizon and warning us to take action." She issued a plea for health professionals and the public to use antibiotics sparingly since it is not known how quickly resistance can spread. Reducing antibiotic resistance is a top priority at CDC, which also has urged institutions to closely monitor resistance problems. After years of doctors and hospitals freely dispensing antibiotics, bacteria have adapted and grown stronger against such drugs, creating a fear that medicine will mimic a pre-antibiotic stage where very simple infections could prove fatal. The CDC also released a report Thursday citing low testing rates for drug-resistant pathogens in hospitals as a major cause for concern. A 1998 survey of 416 labs, which belong to a nationwide network that informs the CDC of new infections, found that 40% did not test for vancomycin resistance, and 70% failed to test for a second resistance pattern to the cephalosporin class of antibiotics. The study also found that labs belonging to MCOs were less likely to perform the tests than independently owned labs (McKenna, 1/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.