What Happens When the NIH Has Little in its Arsenal to Treat a Lethal Bacterial Outbreak?
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health published a journal article last week in Science Translational Medicine about how they used genetic testing to determine the source of a bacterial infection, Klebsiella pneumoniae, that killed eleven patients and is highly resistant to antibiotics. To treat the patient they believe initiated the outbreak, who had been transferred from another state but who had the infection when she entered the hospital, doctors used an old antibiotic, colistin, which is rarely used because it can damage kidneys. And to stem the spread, the hospital restored to extreme measures including tearing out plumbing that harbored the infection and regularly testing every patient in the hospital for the infection. The measures worked, but a recent article in the Washington Post highlights reasons why there are so few new antibiotics with reach to treat “superbugs” including a growing lack of interest among pharmaceutical firms because other drugs make more money.
>>Bonus Link: Read a NewPublicHealth post about an antibiotic resistance study by researchers at Extending the Cure, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The study found that in the winter time, flu symptoms boost both antibiotic use and resistance.