The Centers for Disease Control has just identified more than 220 strains of what they call “nightmare bacteria” that can kill up to 50 percent of the people who catch them.
“I never ever thought that I would end up getting MRSA,” said Sandra Jankowski, who was infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria her father contracted during a visit to a local hospital.
Jankowski believes she was infected while caring for her father at a nursing home.
“He had small scrapes and other things, which meant what was there in his system was sort of out there for all the rest of us,” she said.
Jankowski contracted MRSA in her eyes and she underwent treatment for months.
“It’s much more rampant than we realize and very difficult to get rid of,” Jankowski said.
She was lucky, because her infection eventually responded to drugs.
But the CDC announced that researchers have identified more than 220 strains nationwide that don’t respond to drugs.
“We are learning what is the extent of the problem and how to best manage it. And that’s so critical,” said Dr. Seetha Lakshmi, an infectious disease specialist at Tampa General Hospital.
She says new research and better communication between local partners and state and federal agencies will help address the crisis.
The first of its kind nationwide assessment released Tuesday provides new information to providers.
The CDC has more than 500 employees dedicated to containing unusual antibiotic resistance.
“If you’re the frontline provider, how do you act on this issue? What are your resources? How do you prevent this from spreading to other places, other people?” Lakshmi said.
And identifying specific strains of “nightmare bacteria” will help health care providers respond aggressively, as the CDC pointed out in a conference call today.
“The containment strategy can reduce the number of nightmare bacteria cases by 76 percent,” CDC officials reported in a nationwide conference call Tuesday.
Lakshmi says local hospitals now limit widespread use of antibiotics, which keeps bugs from mutating as rapidly.
“You take it only if you need it. Don’t take it if you just have a runny nose cold with a virus,” Lakshmi said.
And other practices, like frequent hand washing can also help.
“What we need to do is raise awareness,” said Jankowski, who believed she contracted her infection after touching her father.
One way to protect yourself from hospital acquired infections is to do research before choosing a healthcare facility, if possible.
And healthcare experts say infection rates can be lower at satellite offices or clinics that specialize in specific surgeries.