LOS ANGELES, CA – Public health officials are warning of the emergence of a new strain of bacteria demonstrating an unusual resistance pattern. The warning stems from a report from North Hollywood Upstairs Medical Center, where a strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae was isolated from the sputum of a 67-year-old male. Initial antibiotic susceptibility testing by the microbiology lab identified the specimen as a carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriacae, or CRE. This “superbug” is resistant to essentially all commonly used antibiotics, and is an infection control nightmare.
But the lab didn’t stop there. “Since antibiotics were no longer an option, we wanted to see if any alternative methods would be effective,” explains clinical microbiologist Dr. Roger Kendall. “We wanted to see exactly what it was capable of.” Microbiology technicians used a CLSI-standard 9 mm pistol to fire several rounds into the specimen. Despite several hits at point-blank range, the specimen was able to stop the bullets. “Worse,” says Dr. Kendall. “It started eating the bullets.”
The next step involved spraying the specimen with an FDA-approved flamethrower, but again their efforts proved futile. “The entire bench was scorched, but the specimen was unharmed. Instead, it started to laugh maniacally, and we now believe we may have inadvertently given it the ability to breathe fire.”
Despite aggressive efforts by the hospital’s infection control team, the specimen managed to escape the lab, and was last seen climbing a skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles. According to a CDC spokesperson, defeating it will be very difficult.
“It’s unclear what its intentions are, but we now believe it to be an ‘evil superbug.’ It appears to be too powerful to kill by any physical means. Our only hope now is to somehow outsmart it. In the meantime, Los Angeles has been placed on droplet precautions, and yellow disposable gowns and gloves will be made available to all citizens.”