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Superbug linked to Pneumonia
Superbug linked to Pneumonia A new “superbug”, found in many hospitals produces a toxin that can kill pneumonia patients within 72 hours. The toxin, called Panton Valentine leukocidin, or PVL, can cause severe pneumonia that destroys lung tissue, according to a report published in Science. PVL is produced by bacteria from the Staphylococcus aureus family. Staph aureus is found on the skin or nose of about 25% of people. It can cause minor skin infections like pimples, boils and discharge around cuts. These types of infections are commonly called ‘staph’ infections. If the bacteria gains access to the blood stream, it can cause inflammation of the heart, toxic-shock syndrome, and meningitis. Over the past decade, there has been a rise in staph bacteria that are resistant to penecillins. These so called “superbugs” are even resistant to methocillin, and are given the name methocillin-resistant staph aureus or MRSA. Most hospitals employ a series of precautions if a person is known to have MRSA, in order to prevent spread to other patients. In those who are immunocompromised, MRSA can cause severe infections even if no cut or laceration is present. Recently, a strain of MRSA, which produced PVL, caused an outbreak in a British hospital killing two previously healthy patients with a new type of pneumonia. PVL infections tend to be very aggressive and are associated with significant inflammation and fluid. It can progress very quickly and can cause death within 72 hours. Researchers, using isolates of the PVL toxin, have induced pneumonia in mice. Within 2 days, the lungs of the mice were filled with blood, white blood cells and fluid. The possibility of MRSA that now can create PVL is of great concern to those in the medical community. To reduce the risk of acquiring a Staph infection, hygiene is the best defense. This means washing cuts immediately with soap and water. Any skin infection that rapidly spreads requires immediate attention.