New "Nightmare Superbug"

March 8, 2013

A warning on a new "nightmare superbug" was issued March 5 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the presence in the United States of a strain of bacteria called CRE, resistant to anti-biotics, and now found at sites in 42 states. The microbe has been identified at certain hospitals and skilled nursing homes, though not yet in the community at large.

CDC and other officials warn that if the CRE isn't contained soon, even common infections — urinary tract, pneumonia, diarrhea, could become lethal. That's because, the biggest threat from CRE, is that it can share its antibiotic resistance genes with other bacteria, which are more common, such as E. coli. The CRE emergence, and similar resurgent and new diseases internationally, constitutes the potential for ecological holocaust.

In the mid-1970s, Lyndon LaRouche warned of this process of economic breakdown, and the disease potential to actuate into a "biological holocaust." LaRouche formed a task force to publish reports, explaining the dynamics involved, which are now evident in the spread and virulence of the new superbugs, as well as increasing death rates from simple lack of sanitation and nutrition.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden said on Tuesday: "These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat. They're resistant to nearly all antibiotics. They have high mortality rates, killing half of people with serious infections. And they can spread their resistance to other bacteria."

Frieden and others recommend a response of "Detect and Protect," involving monitoring for the microbe, setting up and using quarantine treatment zones, and other procedures to contain CRE. All this calls the question of having an economy capable of supporting proper public health and scientific research.

CRE stands for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. This family of bacteria, in 2001, had only 1.2% of its types resistant to carbapenem antibiotics — the strongest class available (often with toxic threats to the patient's kidneys or other undesirable side effects); but as of 2011, that resistant category jumped to 4.2%.

- Bacteria Without Borders -

Besides CRE, there are other examples in the trans-Atlantic region, and internationally, of superbugs, resistant to front-line anti-biotics.

In Europe, Klebsiella pneumoniae is showing growing rates of resistance to even last-line anti-biotics, and even resistance to carbapenems, the very last of the last-line. K. pneumoniae shows up in the lungs, as urinary tract infections, and blood infection. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued a report in November, 2012, over the fact that the rate of resistant K. pneumoniae in European nations overall had risen from 7% five years ago, to 15%. There is variation among nations, and in some localities, the rate of resistant cases is 50%!

The places with the highest rates include Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria.

There is the reductionist line out, that this is all from over-use of anti-biotics; and yes, there is truth to that — but not the whole truth. In poor areas, the 1% might get treatment (and swallow anti-biotics daily), and the 99% of the others, don't.

A benchmark in this process of resurgent and new diseases was noted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, in January, 2000, in its National Intelligence Estimate, titled, "The Global Infectious Disease Threat and Its Implications for the United States. The NIE warned, "Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death, accounting for a quarter to a third of the estimated 54 million deaths worldwide in 1998....

"Twenty well-known diseases — including tuberculopsis (TB), malaria, and cholera — have reemerged or spread geographically since 1973, often in more virulent and drug-resistant forms.

"At least 30 previously unknown disease agents have been identified since 1973...."

Link to: (pdf)
The Global Infectious Disease Threat and Its Implications for the United States