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Alarming Uptick of Deadly Superbugs in Hospitals

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America's hospitals are places of healing and hope. But they're also home to a growing threat. You may have heard of MSRA - a dangerous infection that can often be treated with antibiotics. Now there's a new class of superbugs - infections striking patients with little or no effective treatment at all.

Jackie Cash and her sisters, Katie and Moira, weren't worried when their 78-year-old father, Bill Shields, checked into a New York hospital earlier this month with a highly treatable form of pneumonia.

CBS News Anchor Katie Couric reports this once-healthy, active man is now clinging to life after he got an infection that's resisted everything the doctors have thrown at it.

(Scroll down to watch the video.)

"You realize there may not be something out there that can actually fix this," Moira said. "That is a horrendous realization."

The organism raging through Bill Shields is KPC-KLEBSIELLA. It's one of five deadly superbugs turning up in America's hospitals with alarming frequency. They're now responsible for 60 percent of all intensive care unit infections.

"What these organisms have done, by creating super-antibiotic resistance, is that they've set medicine back 70 years in time," said Brad Spellberg.

Spellberg is an infectious disease doctor and author of new book, Rising Plague.

Spellberg said "there are increasing cases of infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to every FDA-approved antibiotic. And we literally have no treatment for those bacteria."

The particularly vicious Klebsiella, first reported 10 years ago in one state, has now been found in hospitals in 35 states.

Arjun Srinivasan tracks these lethal bugs for the Centers for Disease Control. "I think the most common sources that we see from the transmission of these types of organisms are the hands of healthcare personnel," he said.
 
 

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