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Outbreaks of Hospital Superbug CRKP on the Rise in California

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San Francisco, CAA new study has found that a rare and deadly superbug, carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP), is infecting hospital patients in large numbers in Southern California.

The study, by the Los Angeles County Department of Health, found 356 cases of CRKP occurred over seven months in 2010. All the incidences were reported in health care facilities including hospitals and nursing homes.

According to a report on CNN.com, CRKP has been reported in 36 states, but health officials suspect that it's not being reported in the other 14 states, where reporting is not required.

This study is the first of its kind in LA County, and the investigators were reportedly surprised by how high the CRKP infection rates were. And, they noted they are not sure why the superbug is so prevalent.

CRKP tends to infect elderly patients who have multiple health problems, and who have catheters or on respirators, as foreign objects can prove good breeding grounds for the bacteria. Colistin is the only antibiotic found to be effective in most but not all cases.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2008), previous outbreaks of CRKP have been associated with a 35 percent incidence of death. Hand washing by staff has reduced the incidence of CRKP infection in some hospitals.

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