The CDC detected this bacteria in 2000. "Since then, we've seen it spread across the country," Kallen said, to 41 states.
Early in the NIH outbreak, hospital staff turned to advanced genetic technology to show that the outbreak had originated with the New York patient. By reading the DNA of the bacteria, the NIH scientists saw that the bugs from patients No. 2 and 3 were so closely related — differing at just one or two genetic letters out of 6 million — they must have come from the first patient, although from two places on her body.
"We eventually learned that they were all connected," said Palmore of the 17 patients.
It is that time where you have to think twice about everything you touch, such as handshakes and kisses...
NIH staff treated the patients who survived with colistin, a decades-old antibiotic that fell out of favor after it became apparent it can severely damage the kidneys. But as the superbug spread, it became resistant even to colistin. So the staff tried experimental antibiotics. None of those worked, either. Six patients eventually died from Klebsiella infections that spread to their blood.
Later this year, the CDC is launching a program in 10 cities to watch for hospital-borne outbreaks of Klebsiella and related superbugs.
"This was our introduction to antibiotic-resistant Klebisella," Palmore said. "We absolutely knew what it was, and we hoped we would never see it."
Damned Super Bugs!