Home > Pestilence > Tricky New Superbug Making Inroads in Canada

Tricky New Superbug Making Inroads in Canada


TORONTO — A Montreal hospital has been battling for the last year to extinguish an outbreak with a worrisome and highly drug-resistant bacteria.

The outbreak at the Jewish General is the first in Canada caused by this strain of the bacteria, a bug that has sparked serious concern because of how easily it spreads and its ability to transfer resistance to other bacteria.

A report on the outbreak was presented in Chicago on Sunday to the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a major annual gathering of infectious diseases specialists.

Dr. Mark Miller, head of infection control at the Jewish General, said the outbreak has been brought under control, but a few patients with the bacteria are still being treated in the hospital.

The outbreak was caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is normally found in the human intestine. In healthy people, these bacteria can live in the intestine without causing illness. In hospitals, however, they can cause a range of infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections and urinary tract infections.

Klebsiella pneumoniae traditionally have been treated with antibiotics called carbepenems. But in the last decade or so, a strain of the bacteria has developed that is resistant to this class of drugs. To make matters worse, the genetic component that gives Klebsiella pneumoniae this resistance has the capacity to transfer into other bacteria, making them resistant to these drugs as well.

The strain with this component is called KPC-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae, and it has even more tricks in its arsenal. The gene that makes it resistant to carbepenems is packaged in a cassette of genes that confer resistance to a number of other antibiotics.” Read more.

Categories: Pestilence
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