Superbug Alert: 10 California Babies Confirmed Infected With Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
An outbreak of a dangerous superbug has been reported from the UC Irvine Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in Orange County under the University of California. The infection was confirmed at the neonatal intensive care unit where 10 infants contracted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA.
Superbugs are incredibly difficult to treat as they are resistant to antbiotics.
According to hospital sources, the babies contracted MRSA between August 2016 and March 2017. But the hospital said all of them have been cured and there are no active infections at present.
Hospital Investigating Superbug Outbreak
Meanwhile, investigations started on how the infants tested positive during treatment at the intensive care unit of the Irvine Medical Center. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
The hospital said it raised the bar on infection prevention measures. After detecting MRSA in December, many steps have been taken but no specific source has been found.
The hospital also persuaded the staff to be proactive in killing potential MRSA by using antiseptic soap and ointment, following four staff members testing positive for MRSA in January. The latest case of MRSA was detected in March.
"With the most recent MRSA case in March, we have repeated deep cleaning, continued attention to hand hygiene and repeated staff decolonization," the hospital added.
How Does MRSA Bacteria Spread?
The MRSA bacteria spreads easily, with nearly 2 percent of people carrying MRSA either on the skin or nose, according to the CDC.
Sharing personal items like towels and razors will transmit the bacteria. The risk increases when people mingle with crowds, develop skin contact, and share equipment and supplies. That is why athletes, school students, and military personnel have been advised to be vigilant against the risk of MRSA transmission.
Health care settings are often the ideal breeding ground for the bacteria and its rapid spread. Accumulating in contaminated wounds, it reaches patients through health care providers as carriers.
Observing the difficulty in fully eliminating MRSA, Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric physician at UH Rainbow Babies Hospital, said MRSA is naturally occurring and hard to eliminate completely from hospital settings.
The UC Irvine Medical Center said that more initiatives to thwart the spread of the superbug have been taken. One is the intense screening of infants right from the admission stage.
Strict use of antibacterial nasal ointments and antiseptic soaps on infants has been ensured, Also, visitors have been directed to carry mobile phones that are cleaned by alcohol wipes.
WHO Calls For MRSA Elimination
The World Health Organization has declared the MRSA superbug as one of the "greatest threat to human health."
It also called for faster production of new antibiotics to rescue patients from the clutches of superbugs.
"Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time," said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Director-General for Health Systems.