- ATLANTA (Reuters) - Federal
health officials said on Thursday they were counting the death of a 63-year-old
woman in an Illinois hospital last May as the fourth reported U.S. case
of a staph germ resistant to traditional antibiotics.
- The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said the unidentified woman, who suffered from renal failure, had been
infected with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that resisted vancomycin,
the drug of last resort.
- Staphylococcus bacteria are commonly found on the skin
without producing any illness, but they can sometimes cause invasive diseases
in the bloodstream or heart valves. The woman in Illinois had undergone
a number of medical and surgical procedures that increased her risk of
- ``She had had many courses of vancomycin treatment, which
tends to promote the emergence of the resistant strains,'' said Julie Gerberding,
director of the centers' hospital infections program.
- The centers said the emergence of vancomycin resistance
increased the possibility that some staph strains would become fully resistant
to the antimicrobial agents traditionally used to kill bacteria.
- The first documented case of vancomycin-resistant staph
occurred in a Japanese child in 1996. The first U.S. cases were reported
one year later.
- Researchers said the emergence of antibiotic-resistant
bacteria had in part been caused by doctors who too often prescribed antibiotics
to patients with viruses such as those that cause colds and flu. Viruses
are immune to antibiotics.
- The centers said prompt identification and reporting
of vancomycin-resistant staphylococci was the single most important tool
for identifying antibiotic resistance.
- ``In hospital settings, because it's such a hardy organism,
it can easily be transmitted from one patient to another. Outbreaks can
occur if proper infection-control procedures are not followed,'' Gerberding
- The agency, however, noted that a survey of 369 microbiology
laboratories in eight states found that only 59 percent did routine confirmatory
testing for vancomycin resistance in staph infections