A superbug that is resistant to antibiotics has hit almost a dozen people. One person has died, but because they did have other major health problems, their death cannot be determined to have been caused by the drug-resistant, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, bug. All eleven people had traveled to Tijuana for weight loss surgery. They are all currently being treated in hospitals, but with a mixed success rate. Some are responding to drugs, while others are almost out of options. The CDC has issued warnings to Americans not to go to Tijuana for treatment.
Dr. David “Cal” Ham, a CDC medical officer, said Friday that the particular strain of pseudomonus bacteria involved in 11 confirmed cases had metallo-beta-lactamase gene. Often called “VIM” by the epidemiological community, Ham explained that these genes cause the microbes that carry them to excrete enzymes that destroy carbapenems, a workhorse class of antibiotics with some of the broadest efficacy in medicine.
The pseudomonus strains that caused the Tijuana outbreak were already drug resistant, Ham said. Picking up carbapenem-fighting chops made an already serious threat more deadly.
“VIM makes this more concerning than your run-of-the-mill, drug-resistant pseudomonus,” Ham said.
Some of the patients, Ham said, have received treatment with other antibiotics and have seen their infections subside while others are still in hospitals suffering as doctors work down a dwindling list of available options.
“There are still active infections, unfortunately,” Ham said. “Several of the isolates involved are susceptible only to a couple of, I would say, less-than-optimal antibiotics that have significant side effect profiles.”
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