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The article below sounds the alarm.
City sewage treatment plants aren't able to kill the drug-resistant and deadly super-bacteria from hospitals, according to a report.
By Paige Austin (Patch Staff) - March 7, 2016 5:47 pm ET LOS ANGELES, CA - California hospitals may be unleashing a deadly drug-resistant superbug into the environment via the sewage system, a series of new studies show.
As first reported by the Los Angeles Times, the Environmental Protection Agency recently identified the superbug that infected patients at UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last year in a Los Angeles sewage treatment facility that releases treated sewage into the Pacific Ocean. A number of new studies show that, rather than killing the bug, sewage treatment plants offer a breeding ground for it to multiply before releasing it into the environment, the newspaper reported.
Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), has proven to be resistant to drugs as well as chlorine, which sewage treatment facilities use to kill bacteria.
According to UCLA, CRE is a family of bacteria that is resistant to many common antibiotics. The bacteria can cause infections in patients who have other serious medical problems or who are “undergoing operations or other invasive procedures,” hospital officials said.
The hospital exposures are believed to have occurred during endoscopic procedures that took place between in 2014 and 2015.
Now, authorities fear that swimmers and beachgoers could contract the deadly bug from treated sewage. According to the Times, one study found that 8 percent of people infected with the nightmare bug hadn’t received treatment from medical facilities prior to infection, suggesting they were exposed to CRE in the environment.
Prior to the latest studies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the infection was not known to infect healthy people, but was mainly associated with hospital patients that required aid from devices such as ventilators or catheters. According to the center, infections "can contribute to death in up to 50% of patients who become infected."
It's a mistake to rely on standard chlorine-based sewage treatment to stop the spread of the bug, said Rice University's Pedro Alvarez. The facilities are nothing more than "a luxury hotel" for drug-resistant bacteria, said Alvarez.