Chicago sees drug-resistant bacteria spreading

An effort to mobilize a response has been formed in reaction to a dangerous drug-resistant bacterium that appears to be spreading through Chicago hospitals and nursing homes.

Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemases, or KPC, is a drug resistant form of a relatively common pathogen that was first found in North Carolina over a decade ago. Since then, it has spread across the country, according to the Chicago Tribune. Detection of KPC-producing bacteria may be difficult based on routine antibiotic susceptibility testing, so infection control measures are vitally important to stopping its spread.

Earlier in the year, 37 health-related facilities reported an average KPC caseload of 10 each. Only a year earlier, the average was four, the Chicago Tribune reports. The strain was first identified in Chicago in 2007, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Dr. Robert Weinstein, interim chairman of the department of medicine at Stroger Hospital and chief operating officer of the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center for HIV/AIDS at the Cook County Health System, explained the relative significance of the findings to the Chicago Tribune.

“Although the number of infections is small, the fact that so many places are seeing KPCs is very concerning,” Weinstein said, the Chicago Tribune reports.