Antibiotic-resistant superbug possible in Mississippi - - Jackson, MS

Antibiotic-resistant superbug possible in Mississippi


It's a major concern among health officials: bacteria that's resistant to most forms of treatment. Dubbed a superbug by scientists, the bacteria has already been seen in dozens of cases around the world.

On Thursday, doctors discovered the first U.S. case, and physicians say that means it's likely all over the country.

"This isn't something that we're just hearing about and caught off guard with," said Madison family physician Dr. Scott Torrey.

Torrey said doctors have feared this superbug for some time, where bacteria has adapted to be resistant to certain types of antibiotics.

He says over-prescribing those drugs has only made things worse.

"Even in my practice, I'll start seeing situations where the antibiotics we've used for many years that usually will treat that infection, more situations where there might not be good oral antibiotics I can give," added Dr. Torrey. "Maybe we have to use IV antibiotics."

What happened in Pennsylvania this week is different, though: a woman whose urinary tract infection could only be treated by one antibiotic in particular,  colistin, a potentially dangerous drug so strong it can damage a patient's kidneys.

The fear by many health officials is that the superbug found there could pair with another bacteria resistant to colistin, making whatever disease carrying that combination untreatable by today's standards.

Are we more susceptible to these resistant bacteria here in Mississippi?

Not exactly, said Dr. Torrey, but the state's abundance of chronic diseases here -- high blood pressure, diabetes, could make recovery more difficult.
"Those types of issues affect you in different ways when you're not in good shape physically, and definitely these different infections, it'll be something that's difficult," said Dr. Torrey. "But the scary thing is, sometimes people who are completely healthy can get these infections, and we don't always have ways to treat those." 

Torrey adds that these kinds of infections are very rare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 23,000 people in the U.S. die from drug-resistant infections every year.

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