When a 43-year-old female lung transplant patient arrived at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center in June 2011, the hospital’s infection control team was on high alert. The woman carried a “superbug” resistant to all but two antibiotics, and the NIH staff wanted to keep the dangerous bacteria contained.
The patient was isolated in the intensive care unit. Staff members donned gowns and gloves before entering her room. Her nurses cared for no other patients.
When she was discharged in July to return to New York, the NIH thought these measures had worked. There were no signs that the bug — known as Klebsiella pneumoniae — had spread.