Superbug Claims Another Victim, This Time A Young Boy
September 17, 2012

Minnesota Boy Becomes Seventh Victim Of Superbug

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The drug-resistant superbug that has infected 19 patients at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center has claimed its seventh victim, officials from the Bethesda, Maryland research hospital announced on Friday.

The latest victim to succumb to the antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella pneumonia strain was a Minnesota boy who was at the facility to be treated for complications from a 2011 bone marrow transplant, Brian Vastag and Lena H. Sun of the Washington Post reported Saturday.

The boy, who originally needed the bone marrow transplant to treat a genetic defect that caused an immune system deficiency, died on September 7. His condition, as well as the steroids and other medications required to battle complications from the transplant, made him or susceptible to the disease, doctors at the center explained.

The superbug dates back to August 2011, when a New York woman infected with the bacteria arrived at the NIH Clinical Center to undergo a lung transplant procedure. The ailment spread to 17 additional patients prior to the latest victim, and of those, 11 died, with six of those fatalities directly linked to the infection itself, Vastag and Sun said. However, the Minnesota boy is the first new case to be reported since January.

NIH Clinical Center Director John Gallin called the case "heartbreaking," telling UPI reporters, "This kid probably got this infection because a patient who was a carrier [of the superbug] was on the same unit. There was undoubtedly some intra-hospital transmission despite our best efforts."

The Washington Post reported that the illness was first detected during a series of routine rectal swabs intended to test patients for hospital-borne infections. Further testing showed that the strain was a match for the Klebsiella pneumonia that had affected other patients at the facility, and afterwards he was placed in the clinic's intensive-care unit as medical professionals scrambled to treat the illness.

"The boy´s superbug originally appeared vulnerable to one antibiotic, but after a week of therapy, the infection grew impervious to that drug, too, Gallin said. The NIH obtained an experimental antibiotic, but it also failed," Vastag and Sun said. "Gallin said that earlier this year, two other patients arrived at the clinical center carrying different strains of potentially deadly drug-resistant Klebsiella. Neither of those strains has spread to other patients, Gallin said."