Nightmare Bacteria

bacteriaNightmare bacteria. The words sound ominous. According to a new study just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it doesn’t just sound ominous. It is.


You’ve probably read about antibiotic resistance at some point, but sometimes it’s hard to stress just how important this issue is, especially when it feels like a far off problem. 

So how about this – each year, over 23,000 Americans die because of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year, nationwide tests discovered 221 instances of ‘unusual’ germs – bugs resistant to all, or most antibiotics tested on it.

This is no longer a far-off problem – it’s something hospitals are fighting right now.

According to USA Today, nightmare bacteria “are virtually untreatable and capable of spreading genes that make them impervious to most antibiotics.”

And added:

What’s worse than “nightmare” bacteria that are resistant to nearly all antibiotics? New nightmare bacteria that have the potential to spread their resistance genes to germs in hospitals around the country.

Doctors liken the spread of…..antibiotic-resistant germs to a wildfire, which is difficult to contain once it spreads widely. Therefore, doctors are trying to stamp out new or unusual types of antibiotic resistance when they first appear — to extinguish the “spark” before it has a chance to grow and spread.

Here in our state, quoted Jessica Rigler with the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) as saying “the bacteria poses a great risk to people who are already sick.”

“While this is really concerning, the biggest concern is to those that are currently in healthcare facilities, not to the general public, so we have policies, plans and procedures in place to control infections in healthcare facilities if they’re detected,” she said.

Rigler said healthy people do not typically become infected with the bacteria. She said the bugs can take over when the body’s immune system was already compromised by another condition.

The CDC believes the key to this fight is an aggressive containment strategy that can shut down the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria before it starts. explains the importance of rapid detection tests and screening to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance.

The CDC’s containment plans don’t rely upon any novel technologies; but they require vigilance. Health care workers must know how to identify resistant bugs, and any unusual germs must be promptly sent out to local or state testing labs. This may sound like simple, or even obvious protocols, but the CDC is taking it seriously. “Antibiotic-resistant germs can spread like wildfire,” their report reads. 

Share your thoughts on nightmare bacteria. Do you believe there’s anything we should be doing (that we’re not) to make sure we stay one step ahead of this uber-nasty bug? If so, what is it? Generating meaningful dialogue around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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