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UH researchers work to develop screening method for superbug
Date:9/9/2011

HOUSTON, Sept. 8, 2011 A team of researchers from the University of Houston (UH) and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital (SLEH) are working to develop improved screening methods to detect a potentially lethal, drug-resistant superbug that has made its way to Texas.

Specifically, the research team looked at a multi-drug resistant bacterium called Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is increasingly resistant to most drugs of last resort. Commonly called CRKP, which is short for carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, the bacteria were found in three patients at St. Luke's in 2010, and the team published a report about it in 2011 in the journal Diagnostic Microbiology & Infectious Disease. Endemic to the northeastern United States and recently making its way to California, reports of this particular superbug have remained uncommon throughout the majority of the country. The researchers believe these are the first confirmed cases in Texas.

"The key to effective therapy is to identify the infection quickly and accurately, so you can initiate the appropriate measures that will benefit the patient, prevent it from spreading and discourage the development of resistance," said Vincent Tam, associate professor of clinical sciences at the UH College of Pharmacy and co-author of the report. "The current methods of detection are far from perfect, but following national and international resistance trends, we are being proactive in anticipating problems so we can deal with them when they're in the initial, budding stage."

Although it's virtually impossible to pinpoint when or how this superbug arrived in Texas, researchers are working to determine its prevalence here and to develop strategies to deal with potential outbreaks. The bacteria can cause an array of infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream and urinary tract infections, and are becoming increasingly worrisome for clinicians.

Although Klebsiella pneumoniae is naturally
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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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