In the past several years’ media reports have focused on the rise of different so-called “superbugs,” infections caused by bacteria that are proving highly challenging to treat. These are bacteria that have grown resistant to the more commonly utilized antibiotics that are available to combat infections. In the alternative, these are bacteria that are triggered when a person is using an antibiotic. There are five superbugs that have particularly garnered the attention of the medical community. These are:
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus MRSA
- Clostridium Difficile of C. Diff
- Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE
- Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter
- Neisseria Gonorrhoeae
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA
MRSA currently is probably the best known of the superbug infections caused by bacteria. MRSA is caused by a type of staph infection that is resistant to treatment by many of the different antibiotics that historically have been used to treat a staph infection. Indeed, there are some antibiotics that are now of absolutely no effect in the treatment of MRSA. Moreover, researchers and doctors concur that as time goes onward the day is highly likely to come when none of the existing antibiotics available at this juncture in time will be effective in treating MRSA.
There are two classifications of an MRSA infection. First, there is an MRSA infection that is more minor and is only at the upper level of the skin. This type of infection oftentimes will resolve on its own or with the lancing and draining of an infection undertaken by a doctor.
Second, there is a more severe deeper skin infection or an infection that bores deeper into a person’s body impacting an organ, multiple organs, or even the bloodstream. These types of more serious and deeper infections necessitate antibiotic treatment. Although the mortality rate associated with more severe cases of an MRSA infection has dropped somewhat in more recent times, every year people die from this type of MRSA infection.
Clostridium Difficile or C. Diff
The Clostridium Difficile bacteria is all around us. Clostridium Difficile is also known as C. Diff. Clostridium Difficile is found in water, soil, air, and in the feces of humans and many other animals. In addition, Clostridium Difficile can end up on a wide array of objects and remain viable for a more extended period of time. Thus, there exist many pathways through which an individual can contract a Clostridium Difficile infection.
Many people have Clostridium Difficile in their intestines without even knowing they do. They experience no negative effects from having Clostridium Difficile in their intestines.
Historically, people primarily contracted a Clostridium Difficile infection while in the hospital. A Clostridium Difficile nearly always occurred when a person was on antibiotics treating another infection.
Although antibiotics contribute to the start of a Clostridium Difficile in the first instance, they are also needed to treat this type of infection. This presents something of a vicious circle and has resulted in Clostridium Difficile being classified as a superbug.
As an aside, in more recent times, there have been cases of individuals who ended up infected by Clostridium Difficile who were not on antibiotics or who had not taken antibiotics any time recently. This change in the general type of people who contract the Clostridium Difficile bacteria has increased the concerns of health care professionals as to the risk the general population is at for contracting this type of infection.
Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE
At this moment in time, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae is arguably one of the most frightening of the superbugs lurking about. Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae is a type of bacteria that typically is found in the stomachs of humans. When contained in the stomach, there are no ill effects. The problem is there are times when the bacteria can cause life-threatening blood infections as well as infections in other parts of the body, like the bladder.
When Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae “gets out of the stomach” this bacterium interacts with other bacteria and renders it resistant to antibiotics. Most cases of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae infection has occurred in a hospital setting. An example of the way it spreads throughout the body is found when a person uses a urinary catheter or a ventilator (breathing machine).
What arguably makes Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, also known as CRE, the scariest of all superbugs is that it is resistant to all antibiotics. Prevention is vital when it comes to CRE. This includes following basic practices of frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizers. As of now, a CRE infection can prove to be untreatable in many situations.
Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter has garnered a claim to fame as being the bacteria that develop the quickest resistance to a particular antibiotic. As of now, a Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter nearly always occurs in a hospital setting.
Hospitals are challenged by this bacterium for a number of reasons. The fact that it is quickly resistant to any antibiotic is one of these challenges. Another is the fact that this bacterium can survive in a viable state for a particularly long period of time on surfaces and objects. This results in this bacterium being spread quite pervasively if it is present in a medical setting. The durability of this bacterium illustrates why professional biohazard remediation proves vital when protecting against the spread of superbugs.
As of this time, the spread of Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter among the general population has not been a significant problem. With that noted, the potential exists that because of the nature and durability of Multidrug-Resistant Acinetobacter, a real risk exists that it might become a major problem among the general public at large.
Finally, on the list of superbugs of note is Neisseria Gonorrhoeae. This is the bacteria that is responsible for causing the STD gonorrhea in humans. Historically, gonorrhea was been a fairly readily treated STD through the use of antibiotics. In more recent times Neisseria Gonorrhoeae has become increasingly more resistant to a growing number of antibiotics. This reality underscores the importance of being proactive in defecting against sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea.