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As If We All Don´t Have Enough To Worry About...

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    As If We All Don´t Have Enough To Worry About...,5079716.story

    A new category of bugs becomes more resistant to treatment, and their toll -- which already includes a Brazilian beauty queen -- is expected to rise.

    When Ruth Burns had surgery to relieve a pinched nerve in her back, the operation was supposed to be an "in-and-out thing," recalled her daughter, Kacia Warren.

    But Burns developed pneumonia and was put on a ventilator. Five days later, she was discharged -- only to be rushed by her daughter to the hospital hours later, disoriented and in alarming pain.

    Seventeen days after the surgery, the 67-year-old nurse was dead.

    Burns had developed meningitis -- an infection of the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. The culprit was Acinetobacter baumannii, a bug that preys on the weak in hospitals. Worse, it was a multi-drug-resistant strain.

    Acinetobacter doesn't garner as many headlines as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the dangerous superbug better known as MRSA. But a January report by the Infectious Diseases Society of America warned that drug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii and two other microbes -- Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae -- could soon produce a toll to rival MRSA's.

    The three bugs belong to a large category of bacteria called "gram-negative" that are especially hard to fight because they are wrapped in a double membrane and harbor enzymes that chew up many antibiotics. As dangerous as MRSA is, some antibiotics can still treat it, and more are in development, experts say.

    But the drugs once used to treat gram-negative bacteria are becoming ineffective, and finding effective new ones is especially challenging.

    "We're literally running out of drugs to treat gram-negatives," said Dr. Brad Spellberg, an infectious disease specialist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. "And there is nothing in the pipeline right now."

    These are the biological culprits raising havoc.

    A scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a highly magnified cluster of Gram-negative, non-motile en:Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria; Mag - 13331x.

    This colorized version of PHIL 232 depicts a scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a number of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.

    Electonmicroscopic picture of bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae.
    Last edited by Mike C; 19 Feb 2009, 1:11 AM.
    "So I have stayed as I am, without regret, seperated from the normal human condition." Guy Sajer

    Last nights news had a piece warning people with open cuts or depressed immune systems to stay out of the Florida surf as the presence of drug resistant bacteria has been found in the water. Now even swimming seems to have risks (beyond the obvious one that put me in the chair to begin with.)