In the past few years, there have been so many “superbugs” appearing in hospitals around the world that we here at Goats and Soda haven’t had the time or resources to report on all of them.
But a new type of pneumonia emerging in China seems so important that we dropped what we were doing to write about it.
Doctors in Hangzhou in southeastern China have detected a a type of pneumonia that is both highly drug-resistant and very deadly. It also spreads easily.
The bacterium — a type of Klebsiella pneumoniae — killed five people in an intensive care unit in Hangzhou in 2016, researchers reported Tuesday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.
“This fatal outbreak happened in a brand new hospital with very good hygiene,” says microbiologist Sheng Chen, who co-led the study at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “Drug-resistant strains shouldn’t have appeared so quickly.”
The microbe can fight off all drugs available in China, Chen says. “We don’t have anything in China to stop it,” he says. “There is a drug available in the U.S. that should be effective against it, but we haven’t tested it yet.”
In the outbreak, the five patients who died were all older than 53. They were all on ventilators after undergoing major surgeries. And they died from severe lung failure, multiorgan failure or septic shock, the researchers found.
When Chen and his team sequenced the microbes found in the infections, they were shocked at what they saw. These bacteria aren’t like other multidrug-resistant pneumonia reported before. They are a fusion of two dangerous forms.