New Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug May Be Deadly To Healthy People

Scientists have identified a deadly bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics and could be dangerous to even healthy people.

It started when a group of five patients in the intensive care unit at a hospital in the Chinese city Hangzhou, who all had trauma surgery, contracted severe pneumonia that did not respond to antibiotics called carbapenems, which are generally used as a last resort when other treatments fail. According to a study in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the patients all were put on ventilators and later “died due to severe lung infection, multiorgan failure, or septic shock.” An investigation after their deaths found that a hypervirulent strain of the bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae was what killed them.

The patients, who were between 53 and 73 years old, died in spring 2016.

Strains of K. pneumoniae like this one “pose a substantial threat to human health because they are simultaneously hypervirulent, multidrug-resistant, and highly transmissible,” the scientists wrote in their study. “Control measures should be implemented to prevent further dissemination of such organisms in the hospital setting and the community.”

The researchers were not sure how prevalent the hypervirulent strain is.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University warned that the new virulent and antibiotic-resistant strain could represent a threat to even healthy people.

Chen Sheng has discovered a new superbug that is hypervirulent and hyper-resistant to treatment. Photo: Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae was previously identified as a superbug, which by definition is resistant to treatment. The strain that infected the Chinese patients last year belongs to a type of that superbug called ST11, which the university explains is “the most prevalent and transmissible” type of it in Asia.

Now that this newly emerging strain is found to be hypervirulent, the researchers are calling the strain ST11 CR-HvKP.

“ST11 K. pneumoniae

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