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"Superbug" Outbreak Hits Second Los Angeles Hospital

Four patients were infected by the deadly bacteria at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with a total of 71 potentially exposed, officials said Wednesday. The announcement came about 2 weeks after seven patients at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center were infected via specialized scopes.

Last updated on March 4, 2015, at 5:47 p.m. ET

Posted on February 18, 2015, at 9:00 p.m. ET

Nick Ut / AP

Four more patients at a second Los Angeles hospital were infected with a deadly "superbug" via a contaminated medical scope, officials said Wednesday.

The patients were treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, with a total 71 others potentially exposed from the contaminated duodenoscope, hospital officials said in a statement.

The announcement comes roughly two weeks after seven patients were found to be infected by the strongly-drug resistant bacteria — with nearly 180 others exposed — at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

The same scope was used on the exposed patients between August 2014 and January 2015, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said.

The infections occurred "despite the fact that Cedars-Sinai meticulously followed the disinfection procedure for duodenoscopes recommended in instructions provided by the manufacturer (Olympus Corporation) and the FDA," the hospital added.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is the latest hospital in the U.S. to deal the deadly bacteria infection as a result of the contaminated scopes, which also prompted the FDA to warn hospitals to take additional procedures to prevent exposure.

One of the four patients identified by the hospital has since died, but was found to have died from an underlying disease and not the infection, the statement read. The infection had already cleared.

The hospital also said they have adopted additional measures due to the "potential insufficiencies of the manufacturer's disinfection instructions," including microscopic analysis of duodenoscopes in use and "high-level disinfection."

One person in North Carolina has died of the same type of superbug likely responsible for two deaths in Los Angeles, CNN reported Monday.

A spokesman with the Carolinas HealthCare System told the network that 18 people contracted CRE in 2015:

Of those, 15 had CRE upon admission to the hospital in Charlotte; three acquired it in the hospital, and one died, the spokesman said. The cause of death was not immediately clear.

The spokesman added that Carolinas HealthCare System uses standard methods for disinfecting its equipment, saying that all duodenoscopes that have been tested have shown to be negative for CRE.

A spokesman for the Carolinas HealthCare System didn't immediately return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Nick Ut / AP

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

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The Food and Drug Adminstration on Thursday issued an alert on scopes blamed for transferring deadly bacteria to at least seven patients, two of whom have died.

In the alert, the FDA asked health care officials to go beyond the recommended cleaning instructions for a specialized scope that may have helped spread the deadly bacteria among patients at the UCLA hospital.

The alert came one day after reports that more than 170 patients from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center were exposed to the drug-resistant bacteria.

The FDA warned that the duodenoscopes' design "may impede effective reprocessing," including cleaning and disinfecting.

But the confirmed infection of seven patients from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was not isolated.

From January 2013 to December 2014, the FDA received 75 medical reports involving 135 people in the U.S. who were infected by similar bacteria via the scopes, according to the alert.

The FDA is also recommending that health care providers take the specialized tool out of service if a patient is found to be infected.

FDA Safety Communication: Design of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography duodenoscopes may impede cleaning. http://t.co/DvPOWl3PHV

U.S. FDA@US_FDAFollow

FDA Safety Communication: Design of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography duodenoscopes may impede cleaning. http://t.co/DvPOWl3PHV

8:34 AM - 19 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

Health officials said there were no breaks or breaches by UCLA in cleaning two scopes that helped spread a dangerous bacteria linked to the deaths of two people.

The flexible scopes that were used by the hospital were purchased by UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center in June 2014 and, "Because of the complexity of the scopes, they are very very difficult to clean," said Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, assistant director of acute communicable disease control and prevention for Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

By Jan. 28, officials were able to link the infections to two of the scopes.

Neither county health officials nor UCLA doctors would identity the manufacturer of the scopes during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Dr. Zachary Rubin of the hospital's infection prevention department, said that while the hospital has reached out to 179 patients that may have been exposed to the bacteria, not all of them have been contacted by hospital staff.

Nearly 180 patients may have come into contact with a deadly "superbug" at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center, officials announced Wednesday.

Seven patients are confirmed to have been infected by what is known as CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) bacteria, according to a statement from UCLA Health System. The bacteria, which is highly resistant to antibiotics, may have been a contributing factor in the deaths of two of those patients, hospital officials added.

The bacteria is believed to have been transferred during a procedure that uses a specialized scope to treat and diagnose pancreatic and biliary tract diseases, according to the statement.

UCLA officials said the scopes were being decontaminated according to protocols, but the instruments are now undergoing a decontamination process that goes "above and beyond the manufacturer and national standards."

UCLA has since notified more than 100 patients and sent out free home testing kits for patients that were exposed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CRE bacteria are difficult to treat because they have high levels of resistance to antibiotics.

"Infections with these germs are very difficult to treat, and can be deadly," according to the CDC.

CRE bacteria can lead to death in up to 50% of patients who become infected.

The public health departments for Los Angeles County and the state were notified when the bacteria was found, UCLA officials said.

About a half-dozen other similar outbreaks involving CRE bacteria and the duodenoscopes in question have been detected in the country since 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times, including in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Seattle.

The UCLA Health System is in the process of notifying more than 100 patients that they may have been infected by a "superbug" bacteria during complex endoscopic procedures that took place between October 2014 and January 2015. The patients are being offered a free home testing kit that would be analyzed at UCLA. UCLA sterilized the scopes according to the standards stipulated by the manufacturer. However, an internal investigation determined that carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) bacteria, may have been transmitted during a procedure that uses this specialized scope to diagnose and treat pancreaticobiliary diseases and a contributing factor in the death of two patients. A total of seven patients were infected. Similar CRE exposures using the same type of scope recently have been reported in other hospitals in the United States. The two scopes involved with the infection were immediately removed and UCLA is now utilizing a decontamination process that goes above and beyond the manufacturer and national standards. Both the Los Angeles County Department of Health and the California Department of Public Health were notified as soon as the bacteria were detected.
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