Centers for Disease Controls Releases Report Warning of "Super Bugs"

By Brady Smith, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Centers for Disease Control have released a report detailing several types of bacteria and the health threat they pose to the U.S. public.

Local health care experts say this report will help doctors and researchers focus their efforts on battling these so-called “super bugs,” and coming up with new methods of prevention and therapy.

The CDC categorizes the infections as “urgent,” “serious,” or “concerning,” and the report says the 3 listed as “urgent” came about from overuse of antibiotics.

Dr. Dan Diekema, Director of the Division of Infectious Disease for University of Iowa Health Care, said overuse of antibiotics is a huge problem in the U.S., one that’s led to bacteria that can resist even the toughest drugs. “Overuse of antibiotics is really what’s driving the emergence of resistance, and antibiotic use is the key driver of one of their top urgent threats, which is clostridium difficile,” said Dr. Diekema.

Also called “C-diff,” it’s a bug that lives in the gastrointestinal tract that can survive antibiotics, causing diarrhea and blood infections. It’s then allowed to overgrow and can cause disease. Dr. Diekema said it’s a problem in many U.S. hospitals, but it can be prevented by reducing overuse of antibiotics.

The report also lists drug-resistant gonorrhea as an urgent threat. Dr. Diekema says that’s because people who have the drug-resistant strain often don’t get the medicine they need.

“Patients who get gonorrhea really need options for oral therapy,”

Diekema explained, adding that when they don’t get the proper treatment, it can lead to hospitalization. Drug-resistant gonorrhea has even forced the State Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville, which identifies many types of bacteria with modern DNA testing, to go back to a more old-fashioned method of detection.

“What we’re seeing is, in order to find which strains really are antibiotic-resistant, we have to bring back culturing,” said Mary DeMartino, interim director of the lab’s Disease Control Division. “We have to grow the organism up so that it can be tested against different antibiotics.”

Also on the list are CREs — “super bugs” that have a high mortality rate in intensive care units.

“So far, they’re mostly affecting the sickest of the sick patients in our intensive care units,” said Diekema, “those that are most vulnerable, and least able to handle an infection.”

Diekema said prevention is the key to avoiding getting one of these serious infections. Part of that involves talking things over with your doctor when they prescribe antibiotics, and to not be afraid to ask if an antibiotic prescription is really needed, especially if the sickness is caused by a virus.

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