Hospitals in the US are on the lookout for Klebsiella after infections were reported in Omaha, Nebraska. This superbug is hard to kill but prevention is pretty much the same as for MRSA and other hospital infections. Hand washing and hygiene are essential for doctors, orderlies, nurses, and people who come into the hospital environment, including visitors and the clergy. Anyone who may be visiting several patients during the course of the day should be vigilant about keeping clean, especially before and after treating wounds, changing bed linens, and interacting with surfaces that may carry the bacterium. .
Aside from pneumonia, bloodstream infections are a primary concern when dealing with this disease. Although the infection was reported most recently in Nebraska, it is more common to the Northeast US, including the cities of Chicago and New York, which have seen several hundred cases.
Infections on Rise
A new danger in hospital infections has reared its ugly head in the form of Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is a drug resistant bacteria that can kill patients who contract it during the course of a stay in the hospital or healthcare facility. This bacterium is normally found in the intestine, where it is harmless, but if it gets into the lungs or bloodstream it can be very dangerous.
Hand Washing Is Key
Previously, the illness was reported in places like Greece, Israel, and Colombia. Now, with infections on the rise in the US, the CDC is counseling increased vigilance and more testing in order to check the spread of the illness. Although it was first reported in the early 2000s, klebsiella pneumonia has kept a low profile but has been quietly spreading throughout the nation. What concerns providers is the mortality rate, which can be upwards of 40 percent for patients with invasive infections like those in the bloodstream. .
In hospitals, where cleanliness is part and parcel of the daily regimen (or really should be) the disease is not as big of a threat as in long term care facilities, like homes for the elderly, hospices, and assisted living communities. In these places, patients may be in contact with each other, or may be cared for by a small staff that could more readily pass infections on to more people. Common problems like diabetes, where wounds are more common and persistent, might offer an avenue for the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. In 2013, the American Health Care Association distributed information related to Klebsiella to all of its members and created a web page with links to CDC data. Some of the recommendations developed with the disease include placing patients with the infection in single rooms, the use of gowns and gloves, reducing antibiotic use in other instances, and reduce the use of catheders on patients with the illness. Another recommendation involved grouping all patients in one area so caregivers so not move between infected and non-infected patients frequently. One of the problems with the illness involves determining the antibiotic-resistant klebsiella and the normal variety, and a molecular diagnostic tool is being created to isolate the genes of the more deadly variant. .