Apr 3, 2018

New CDC testing finds growing number of "nightmare germs"

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), aka golden staph. Photo: BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

A new nationwide program led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 221 instances of dangerous so-called "nightmare bacteria" in its first 9 months of monitoring — a high number which "surprised" CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat.

Why it matters: About 2 million Americans contract and 23,000 die from antibiotic-resistant infections per year. Public health officials said today they are trying to get ahead of any "sparks" of these threats by encouraging hospitals and long-term care facilities to adopt an aggressive containment policy even for single cases.

"The hard truth is, as fast as we have run...some germs have outpaced us. ... We need to do more and we need to do it faster and earlier."
— CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat

What they found: The officials are searching for all antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but the most serious group is the CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which is highly resistant and deadly about half of the time. In the initial 9 months of the project, CDC said it tested 5,770 samples nationwide, and found 221 with unusual genes that confer antibiotic resistance. They also found:

  • 25% of the tested germs had genes that allow them to spread to other types of bacteria.
  • 1 out of 10 patients screened with these germs were asymptomatic but contagious.
  • Nightmare germs can be spread from people with and without symptoms of infection between facilities as people travel.

The strategy: They now have 500 local trained staff, 56 state and local labs, and 7 regional labs dedicated to antimicrobial testing and containment throughout the nation.

  • Schuchat says they believe this program could reduce new CRE infections by 76% over three years if there's a "tremendous increase in rapid response in every state."
  • "These resources have been a game-changer for their states," Jay Butler, chief medical officer for Alaska, said at the briefing.

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The year of the protest meets the year of the lockdown

Hong Kong demonstrators protest a government ban on face masks in October. Photo by Laurel Chor/Getty Images

The year of the mass uprising has collided with the year of the coronavirus lockdown, leaving protest movements around the world stalled. 

The big picture: The enduring images of 2019 are of protest — from Hong Kong to Khartoum, across the Middle East and through much of Latin America. Seemingly overnight, though, social distancing has made such mass demonstrations almost unthinkable.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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