Posted: June 22, 2015

Nearly a century ago, and completely by accident, we were blessed by the discovery of antibiotics. These new drugs could be used to combat a large number of bacterial infections. However, over the years and with constant use, these wonder drugs have caused new mutations of bacteria to emerge. These new strains of bacteria are resistant to antibiotics and can cause severe injury and even death if they are not found quickly. These new antibiotic-resistant bacteria are sometimes called superbugs.

Why have superbug cases suddenly surged?

There are many factors that have contributed to a rise in recent years in drug-resistant bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites the No. 1 cause as the misuse of antibiotics, by either taking them when they are not really needed or not finishing an entire prescription.

What are the different types of superbugs?

  • Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) -- Enterobacteriaceae are a class of bacteria that are normally found in the digestive system. Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae are a small set of that family of bacteria that have developed resistance to very strong antibiotics. These infections usually occur in hospital settings, and there have been reports that they have been spread by improper cleaning of equipment used to perform endoscopy (an examination of your digestive system with a flexible tube and camera).
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is another common bacteria found in the intestines. The majority of the time, it does no harm. However, if a patient receives antibiotics for another type of infection, it can cause an overgrowth of C. diff and lead to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Neisseria gonorrhorea is spread through sexual contact and is the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. This bacteria used to be easily treated with antibiotics, but new, drug-resistant strains have developed in recent years.
  • Multidrug Resistant Acinetobacer is a bacteria that can live on your skin for days and does not always make you sick. However, for patients who are already very ill and hospitalized from another cause, it can be deadly.
  • MRSA or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is a bacteria that also can live on your skin and not make you ill. But it is easy to spread this bacteria to others, and patients with open wounds are at risk for the bacteria to enter the blood stream and cause a life-threatening infection.
  • Salmonella typhi (H58 lineage) is a drug-resistant strain of the bacteria that causes typhoid fever. It can contracted by drinking or eating contaminated items.

What can you do to avoid superbugs?

Although new superbugs have emerged outside the hospital setting, doctors’ offices, healthcare facilities, clinics and major hospitals, the health care setting is the most common place that patients can contract a superbug. The most important factor in reducing risk is for you and your healthcare providers to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often and insist that your healthcare professionals do the same. Avoid sharing anything with other patients and be sure to sanitize public telephones before use.

What to do if you contract a superbug?

If you think you may have contracted a superbug infection, it is important that you seek medical care immediately. If found soon enough, medical professionals do have ways to fight certain superbugs. If you or a loved one suffered severe injury or death as a result of contracting a superbug, you might also want to contact an attorney at Kline & Specter, PC, at 800-243-1100. Learn more about infections lawsuits.