May 6, 2015 — Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle has reported that at least 39 people were infected in an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant “superbug” bacteria, up from 32 infections reported in January, according to the Seattle Times.
At least 11 patients died in the outbreak, which stretched from 2012 until late 2014.
The good news is that the outbreak appears to be over. Since the hospital implemented a new infection-control system, no new cases of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) have been reported.
The seven additional cases were discovered in samples collected from patients between June and November 2014, including five cases of CRE and two cases of hyper-AmpC (HAC), which are unusual strains of drug-resistant E. coli.
Earlier this year, the FDA issued a Safety Communication to warn about the risk of disease-transmission on duodenoscopes. Complex mechanisms in the tip of the scope may be extremely difficult to effectively sterilize between uses.
Virginia Mason now sterilizes endoscopes using a rigorous cleaning process. Before they are re-used on other patients, the scopes are tested for any bacteria and quarantined until they are clean.
At least three lawsuits have been filed on behalf of victims of the Virginia Mason outbreak. The manufacturer of the duodenoscope, Olympus Corp., is accused of negligence for failing to provide the hospital with adequate cleaning instructions. The FDA has also indicated that the duodenoscope had been on the market since 2010 without proper clearance.