February 23, 2015
Deadly Superbug Moves From California To East Coast

They call it a "superbug" because of its ultra resistance to antibiotics. It has taken the lives of two people in California, and now the same strain has claimed the life of a third victim in North Carolina.

The official name of the superbug is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. According to Kevin McCarthy, a spokesman with Carolinas HealthCare Systems, a total of 18 individuals have succumbed to the superbug this year. Of those, 15 had the superbug upon admission to a hospital in Charlotte, 3 others acquired the superbug while in the hospital for something else, and one has died from it.

According to CNN, McCarthy declined to provide details on any of the patients, and would not stipulate how any of them became infected.

Last week in Los Angeles, seven patients contracted the superbug after routine endoscopic procedures, the same sort of procedure that claimed the life of legendary comedienne Joan Rivers last year. Two of those patients died as a result of contracting the superbug, and it was confirmed that CRE was a contributing factor in their deaths. Hospital officials at UCLA Medical Center now say that the outbreak was caused by two medical scopes that apparently carried the deadly superbug even though rigorous disinfection guidelines were followed. The idea that the superbug can survive typical disinfection procedures makes it particularly worrisome to health officials.

The scope used at the UCLA hospital was a a duodenoscope made by Olympus. As a result of the superbug infections, and the resulting deaths, the Food and Drug Administration is looking not only at the Olympus scope, but others made by Fujifilm and Pentax. Additionally, UCLA medical center is contacting an additional 179 patients who underwent endoscopic procedures between October of 2014 and January of 2015. The hospital is offering the individuals free home tests to scan for the superbug bacteria.

The medical center is contacting 179 others who underwent endoscopic procedures between October and January. It's offering them home tests to screen for the bacteria.

When questioned about endoscopes in North Carolina, Kevin McCarthy said that Carolinas HealthCare System uses "standard methods" for disinfecting its equipment. McCarthy went on to say that all duodenoscopes at Carolinas HealthCare System have been tested for the superbug and haven't shown any signs of CRE.

In a statement, McCarthy said Carolinas HealthCare System uses standard methods for disinfecting its equipment, saying that all duodenoscopes that have been tested have shown to be negative for CRE.

[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]