New Superbug Outbreak: 4 Infected, 67 Exposed At L.A. Hospital From Contaminated Medical Scope

A new superbug outbreak has taken aim at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Four patients have been infected with the deadly bacteria from a contaminated medical scope, and 67 other people are believed to have been exposed, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Contaminated medical devices have been a primary source of new superbug outbreaks as the Inquisitr previously reported. Two people died at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center a short time ago.

On Wednesday, Cedars-Sinai began investigating the latest outbreak that's similar to the infections that struck UCLA. Seven patients were ill from the superbug, including the two who died.

Medical instruments made by companies like Japan's Olympus Corp. are reportedly very difficult to clean, and hazardous germs remain in the devices. The Food and Drug Administration is facing increased pressure to solve this epidemic.

Director of the Safe Patient Project at Consumers Union, Lisa McGiffert, says other hospitals around the nation are probably infected with the new superbug outbreak, but they haven't "connected the dots" yet. They're fighting some type of infection, but don't realize it's carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae -- or CRE. This superbug is powerful in that it's resistant to antibiotics and is capable of killing up to half of those it infects.

According to Cedars-Sinai, one of the four infected patients has died, but it wasn't due to CRE. They confirmed that the three other patients were released from the hospital.

As the report explains, the bacteria is transmitted to people through a procedure called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). It's when a fiber-optic scope is inserted down a patient's throat in order to examine and treat digestive tract issues that pertain to gallstones, cancers, and bile duct blockages. These medical instruments are different from scopes used in endoscopies and colonoscopies.

The Olympus duodenoscope at Cedars-Sinai that was used from last August until mid-February is reported to be the source of the new superbug outbreak. It's the same instrument linked to the UCLA and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle outbreaks. Shockingly, the FDA admitted the device hadn't gotten government approval and has been part of the medical industry since 2010. The federal agency added that their response took time so they could get to the root of the problem and find a way to reduce risks.

Due to detailed and meticulous design, the instrument is remarkably hard to clean, which may result in bacteria lodging in small crevices at the tip of the scope.

Olympus spokesman Mark Miller says, "While any complication affecting a patient's health is a serious matter, the reported incidence of infections is extremely low." There are a reported 500,000 ERCP procedures performed each year.

The fiber-optic scope that was the culprit of the superbug outbreak in these instances has been removed from service -- and now hospitals are implementing a before and after monitoring system of medical devices used on patients.

ABC News reports that only three states haven't been infected with the new superbug outbreak. Those are Idaho, Alaska, and Maine.

[Photo by Jason Kirk/Getty Images]