Monday, February 05, 2007


We’ve been hearing a lot lately about superbugs, and here’s another case of their appearance—this time in military hospitals, affecting wounded GIs. From global warming to energy shortages to environmental problems and genetic research, the human species has never more needed solid, objective, empirical approaches to life, and, in America, science has never more been under attack by a bunch of ignorant religionists than in current times. You can pray all you want, but none of these problems will be solved by prayer or by appeals to imaginary and hypothetical superbeings. The curse of the religionists amongst us is doubly hurtful in that they will justify all these problems by imagining their hypothetical superbeing is punishing us all for not following their religionists' teachings. Thus they become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Get out of the way religionaries, we humanists and other rational people among you got work to do far beyond your dull imaginings.

Came across the following on the Huffington Post, then followed the links to Wired Magazine and snipped out a few paragraphs from a five page article there. Go read the whole thing here.

Since OPERATION Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, more than 700 US soldiers have been infected or colonized with Acinetobacter baumannii. A significant number of additional cases have been found in the Canadian and British armed forces, and among wounded Iraqi civilians. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has recorded seven deaths caused by the bacteria in US hospitals along the evacuation chain. Four were unlucky civilians who picked up the bug at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, while undergoing treatment for other life-threatening conditions. Another was a 63-year-old woman, also chronically ill, who shared a ward at Landstuhl with infected coalition troops.

Behind the scenes, the spread of a pathogen that targets wounded GIs has triggered broad reforms in both combat medical care and the Pentagon's networks for tracking bacterial threats within the ranks. Interviews with current and former military physicians, recent articles in medical journals, and internal reports reveal that the Department of Defense has been waging a secret war within the larger mission in Iraq and Afghanistan - a war against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. . . .

A major outbreak in Chicago two years ago infected 81 patients, killing at least 14. Arizona health officials tracked more than 200 infections in state hospitals early last year. Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee used to see an infection or two every year; now it's one or more a month. "These bacteria are developing very, very quickly," says CDC epidemiologist Arjun Srinivasan, who has been consulting with the DOD about the military outbreak. "The bad news is that we're many years away from having new drugs to treat them. It should be a call to arms. . . ."

In Europe, multidrug-resistant acinetobacter is spreading through civilian hospitals, precipitating a public health crisis. A 2003-2004 epidemic hit more than 50 hospitals and long-term care facilities in France, making scores of patients sick and killing 34 people. Thirty-nine infected patients died at St. Mary's Hospital in London two years ago. . . .

"The bugs are outpacing us, and these drugs are not the kind that bring in incredible profits," says Robert Guidos, director of public policy for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "We're planning for bioterrorism and pandemic influenza, but what about the hundreds of thousands of people dying each year from nontheoretical situations? We need to think in longer terms. . . ."

PS: The image above is not of a microbial bug but of a fly, a big bug of its own kind found at the following site:

1 comment:

Marcie Hascall Clark said...

Thanks for posting this great story about this bad bug. It has already spread to community hospitals all over the country.
Unfortunately it is not the only bug coming back.
Leishmaniasis, a protozoan parasite, spread by the bite of a sandfly, can live in a healthy persons body for 20 years without presenting itself. It is spread sexually, congenitally, and by blood transfusion. There is no sterile cure.
The CDC warned the DOD that this would be a huge problem BEFORE they sent the soldiers over in sand fly season to sleep in the sand with no precautions.
Look for this bug to be infecting our blood supply in addition to the soldiers and civilians who don't even know they have it.