A superbug is spreading in Southern California. Known as carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP), the bacteria has proven untreatable by any known antibiotic, and a new report by the Los Angeles County Department of Health has unveiled 356 cases in the area. The silver lining, in terms of the public health threat, is that the cases discovered so far have been largely limited to elderly patients with other complications who have spent extended stays in hospitals.
But this is not the first CRKP epidemic.
An outbreak among 600 people occurred in New York in 2005, and last year, a report conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital revealed little positive news regarding the success of treatment options. Thus far, cases have been reported in at least 37 states since 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the Los Angeles-area paper The Daily Breeze, Dr. Brad Spillberg, an infectious disease expert and physician at County-Harbor Medical Center, summed up everyone’s greatest fears. “This is scary stuff,” he said. “It cannot be treated with any antibiotic that we know of. We’re at the point with some of this [drug-resistant bacteria] that we’re just mixing a bunch of crap together, throwing it at the patient and crossing our fingers.”