The Dallas nurses who survived Ebola are also survivors of a more common problem: hospital-acquired infections, according to a blog on the Dallas News website.
One in 25 hospital patients comes down with an infection picked up inside the hospital. In 2011, an estimated 722,000 patients acquired one, and more than 75,000 died, either directly from an infection or because an infection weakened a patient’s ability to fight other illnesses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The biggest worries today are the bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Outbreaks of clostridium difficile, a bug that thrives when antibiotics kill off bacteria that normally live in the intestines. C. diff kills an estimated 14,000 Americans every year and is hard to eradicate outside the body.
Medicine is making advances against C. diff. Fecal transplants that restore normal bacteria to the gut have worked well and there may soon be capsules available.
Other antibiotic resistant bacteria are far more dangerous and rival Ebola for the fear they engender in health care workers. CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) often causes untreatable pneumonia.
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