This is possibly our biggest infection control dilemma yet.
Although cases of this particular pneumonia infection have been on the rise worldwide for the past 10 years, there is an alarming spread recently across the US.
What makes this opportunistic “superbug” such a nightmare is that it is Carbapenem-Resistant, meaning “last resort antibiotic” resistant. It’s a Carbapenem-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP); Klebsiella pneumoniae is a strain of Klebsiella which is related to E. Coli and Salmonella from the family Enterobacteriaceae.
Thirty-seven states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have reported the outbreak, up from thirty-five states last year. The CDC believes it is also spreading in 14 other US territories but is going unreported.
Found inside the gut; outside of the gut, it can cause lethal infection. The major reservoirs of infection are the gastrointestinal tracts of patients, catheters, ventilators, unclean instruments, and the hands of hospital personnel. It zeros in on hospitals, ICUs, long-term care facilities like nursing homes, and those with immune-compromised conditions.
It is a potential community-acquired type of pneumonia (one not acquired from hospitals) and the bug has an incredible ability to mutate and resist. It does indeed carry a fatality rate of up to 50 percent or more! That’s 10 percent more than last year’s reports.
There are a couple of antibiotics that have been shown to kill these superbugs, but can also risk death for CRKP victims. Even the FDA cautions that some of the last resort antibiotics create an “increased risk of death” in pneumonia patients.
According to medical officer Alexander Kallen of the CDC last year, “failure to recognize CRE infections when they first occur in a facility has resulted in a missed opportunity to intervene before these organisms are transmitted more widely.”
Now is an ideal time to avoid typical healthcare facilities and make or stock colloidal silver — the best defense against resistant superbugs such as CRKP.