A strain of antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas bacteria was found in a health-care facility in Orange County, making it the first case of its kind in Florida, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The superbug, which produces genes that make it resistant to the penicillin family of antibiotics, was identified in 2017 in seven patients in a long-term acute care hospital — an inpatient hospital for patients who are too sick for nursing homes but not sick-enough for the ICU. The bacteria was identified in patients before causing infections or complications, according to the CDC report.
The agency did not name the facility.
“The report is concerning for sure,” said Dr. Nancy Hanson, director of the Center for Research in Anti-Infectives and Biotechnology at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. “For years, we’ve tried to get people to realize that this just doesn’t happen over night. Genes keep changing, and they keep getting more powerful allowing the bacteria to become resistant to more drugs.”
P. aeruginosa, or Pseudomonas, is a common source of infections in health-care settings. Patients with breathing tubes and wounds are at the highest risk of getting infected by the bacteria. Nearly 51,000 P. aeruginosa infections occur in health-care settings each year, according to the CDC.
The bacteria can also infect healthy people, especially in hot tubs and swimming pools that aren’t properly chlorinated. In children, it can cause ear infections and skin rashes.
But the strain identified at the Orange County facility is more of a superbug, which produces enzymes that can break down a range of antibiotics in the penicillin family. There have been recorded outbreaks for the strain in several countries, including Greece, said Dr. Debopam Chakrabarti, professor and head of Molecular Microbiology Division at Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at UCF College of Medicine.
The small outbreak in the Orange County facility was first identified in one patient in June last year. The patient was put in isolation and a facility-wide survey was conducted, according to the CDC report.
Six more patients tested positive for the bacteria in the following months.
Six of the seven patients had breathing tubes, six had ulcers, and four were on dialysis, according to the CDC. Their ages ranged from 40 to 68 years old.
Despite its presence, the bacteria didn’t cause infection in the patients.
After identifying the cases, the hospital implemented processes to reduce infections, according to the CDC. The hospital now has an enhanced surveillance program for the bacteria; it has taken infection control measures such as better hand hygiene; it has reinforced cleaning practices; and it has evaluated its respiratory therapy processes, according to the CDC.
You can read the report here.