Support for LAist comes from
True LA stories, powered by you
Stay Connected

Share This

News

Be Afraid: Drug-Resistant "Superbug" Arrives in L.A.

Klebsiella_pneumoniae.jpg
Klebsiella pneumoniae (Wikipedia)
LAist needs your reader support
You can power our reporters and help keep us independent with a donation today during our June Member drive.

Just when you thought it was safe to go to the hospital, or elderly care facility comes the SUPERBUG. This superbug happens to be a "deadly bacteria thought to be resistant to all known remedies." And it's here. In Los Angeles. The Daily Breeze explains that the superbug is technically "a multiresistant form of Klebsiella pneumoniae, also known as CRKP," which "was formally thought to be contained to the East Coast." Thanks a lot, East Coast! To date, 365 cases of CRKP have been found in Los Angeles County, with most of the cases being "elderly patients at skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities." No, you're not in the clear: "[L]ab results also show a small percentage of cases at acute care hospitals."

The superbug is serious...deadly serious. Doctor and infectious disease expert Brad Spellberg admits CRKP has killed patients at County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance. Because it is resistant to all antibiotics, treating it is a gamble. Spellberg describes the treatment process: " We're at the point with some of this (resistant bacteria) that we're just mixing a bunch of crap together, throwing it at the patient and crossing our fingers."

The CDC published a study of Klebsiella pneumoniae in 2002:

Klebsiella pneumoniae is among the most common gram-negative bacteria encountered by physicians worldwide. It is a common hospital-acquired pathogen, causing urinary tract infections, nosocomial pneumonia, and intraabdominal infections. K. pneumoniae is also a potential community-acquired pathogen. [...] The classic clinical presentation is dramatic: toxic presentation with sudden onset, high fever, and hemoptysis (currant jelly sputum). Chest radiographic abnormalities such as bulging interlobar fissure and cavitary abscesses are prominent.
Support for LAist comes from

Because CRKP is an emergent disease, and its arrival in Los Angeles somewhat unexpected, medical professionals are scrambling to turn their attention to implementing protocols and exploring treatment options. Spellberg advises the public on what they can do: "Wash your hands, and stay out of the hospital if you can. If you are in the hospital, get out as soon as possible. And tell your local elected officials to work to fix this problem."