Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Duke University study finds new superbug on rise in hospitals

ATLANTA — As one superbug seems to be fading as a threat in hospitals, another is on the rise, a new study suggests.

A dangerous, drug-resistant staph infection called MRSA is often seen as the biggest germ threat to patients in hospitals and other health care facilities. But infections from Clostridium difficile — known as C-diff — are surpassing MRSA infections, the study of 28 hospitals in the Southeast found.

"I think MRSA is almost a household name. Everybody thinks of MRSA as a serious threat," said Dr. Becky Miller, an infectious diseases specialist at Duke University Medical Center. She presented the research at a conference Saturday in Atlanta.

"But C. difficile deserves more attention," she added.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, are bacteria that can't be treated with common antibiotics. They are often harmless as they ride on the skin, but become deadly once they get in the bloodstream. They enter through wounds, intravenous lines and other paths.

C-diff, also resistant to some antibiotics, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and a more serious intestinal condition known as colitis. It is spread by spores in feces. The spores are difficult to kill with most conventional household cleaners or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, so some of the disinfection measures against MRSA don't work on C-diff.

Deaths from C-diff traditionally have been rare, but a more dangerous form has emerged in the last 10 years. Still, MRSA is generally considered a more lethal threat, causing an estimated 18,000 U.S. deaths annually.

The new study looked at infection rates from community hospitals in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in 2008 and 2009. It found the rate of hospital-acquired C-diff infections was 25 percent higher than MRSA infections.

Here are the numbers: The hospitals counted 847 infections of hospital-acquired C-diff, and 680 cases of MRSA.

Miller also reported that C-diff was increasing at the hospitals since 2007, while MRSA has been declining since 2005.

Last year, a government report noted a decline in MRSA infections in a study of 600 hospital intensive-care units. MRSA bloodstream infections connected with intravenous tubes fell almost 50 percent from 1997 to 2007, according to data reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

C-diff seems to be increasing in recent years, but the trend is not uniform — some hospitals report declines. The prevalence of infections can vary in different parts of the country, said Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, a CDC expert who was not part of the Duke study.

TB cases drop

Health officials say better screening of immigrants may explain the big dip in U.S. tuberculosis cases last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that the nation's TB rate dropped more than 11 percent last year. That's the largest single-year decrease in more than 50 years of recordkeeping. TB rates have been falling in the United States, but about 4 percent a year.

Duke University study finds new superbug on rise in hospitals 03/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 20, 2010 10:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Forecast: Muggy, warm conditions across Tampa Bay as afternoon storms stay mostly east of I-75

    Weather

    A muggy and slightly wet day is in on tap for Tampa Bay as most of the rain sticks east of Interstate 75 in the afternoon.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  2. Trigaux: No more VinikVille as Water Street Tampa finally arrives

    Business

    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  3. Finally, Jeff Vinik's vision has a name: Water Street Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — For years, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and the real estate executives he employs have been dreaming how to transform 53 acres of downtown Tampa into a major hub of living, working and entertaining in the city's core.

    Strategic Property Partners announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. This rendering shows the Tampa skyline with SPP's future buildings in place. [Photos courtesy of SPP]
  4. Future, Ruff Ryders reunion tour coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

    Blogs

    Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is in the midst of a killer summer of rock (Green Day, Muse, Linkin Park) and country (Sam Hunt, Lady Antebelleum, Dierks Bentley).

    Future
  5. Rubio remains noncommital on Obamacare replacement but a likely yes vote

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio has been bombarded with phone calls, emails and on Monday, protests took place outside his offices in Doral and Palm Beach Gardens. But while the effort is most unlikely to dissuade the Florida Republican from voting for the Obamacare replacement -- if it even comes up for a vote this week -- he remains …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks at an event in Miami, Friday, June 16, 2017, where President Donald Trump announced a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. cash to the country's military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations.