5 Deadly Superbugs That Are On The Rise

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Image: kat m research

At some time in our lives we are going to get hit by a virus or a bacterium that lays us low. Thankfully that is not so much of a problem since all we have to do is pop along to the doctor, pick up some medicine and then crash out on the couch watching daytime television until we are better. Lurking on the horizon, however, is something we should be more worried about: the rise of the superbug. Diseases, viruses and bacteria which we had previously dealt with have rallied, come back stronger and are now capable of doing more than just laying us low. Here are just a few of them.


Image: Pulmonary Pathology

5. Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP)

Pneumonia is not a great illness to have. It is a respiratory condition in which there is an infection of the lung, and it can be caused by a virus, bacteria or even by accidentally breathing in liquid. It is, however, relatively easy to treat with antibiotics and bed rest, it rarely gets you sent to hospital, and mortality rates from the illness are not high. In fact, it only tends to be fatal if complications occur.

Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumonia or CRKP is another matter entirely. This is a strain of pneumonia acquired in hospital which has become resistant to nearly all of the antibiotics that are currently used to treat the condition. If that weren’t bad enough, the Klebsiella bacterium produces an enzyme that degrades powerful antibiotics and confers a low-level resistance to others. Oh, and to make matters worse, that enzyme can be passed to other bacteria in the body.

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Image: Pulmonary Pathology

During the period of October 2005–October 2008, a university training hospital studied cases of CRKP. It discovered that people struck down with this superbug were more likely to have to spend time in intensive care and spend more time on a ventilator than non-infected people. Possibly the scariest thing they found, however, is that the mortality rate of people infected with this strain of pneumonia is 50%.

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