An outbreak of a little-known pathogen at a university clinic in Kiel, Germany has experts worried about the potential damage it could do if not contained. So far, 27 patients at the hospital, the site of the outbreak, have been infected and 11 have died.
The bacteria, scientific name Acinetobacter baumannii, has been confirmed as the cause of death in nine of the cases at the Schleswig-Holstein University Clinic (UKSH), and it can’t be ruled out for the other two. The strain is particularly infectious among those who already have immune deficiencies. While healthier persons are far less vulnerable, the strain is still difficult to fight.
According to the report by DW:
The reason for the alarm – and the impetus for flying in a team of leading specialists from the Frankfurt University Clinic – concerns the strain’s almost impregnable resistance to antibiotics, the standard treatment of bacterial infections.
“We are dealing with an extremely resistant strain of bacteria,” Harald Seifert, a professor at Cologne University’s Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, said in an interview with DW. “Over the years, the spectrum of its resistance has grown to the extent that, to my knowledge, only one antibiotic can be used: colistin.”
The Kiel clinic has reportedly taken all necessary steps to contain the outbreak, putting all infected patients in isolated and intensive care. Officials also denied claims that the issue is a result of improper hygiene practices.