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Last month, a Pennsylvania woman was found to have a “superbug,” which caused concern in the medical community.

Some, like the Pennsylvania Medical Society, warned that it’s important to note that the superbug was caught and health care professionals are working to address the situation. However, such rare bacteria poses a threat.

Boiling Springs Family Medicine physician Dr. Chad Jumper talked about superbugs, what they are and what it means for health care.

Q: What is a superbug?

A: “A superbug is a strain of bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics.”

Q: How can someone get a superbug from a medical instrument?

A: “Medical instruments can infect people with superbugs through the bloodstream, urinary tract or the gastrointestinal system. One recent example of this mode of spread was infected scopes being used to exam patients’ intestinal tracts.”

Q: What treatment is there for a superbug?

A: “Some superbugs are treatable with alternative antibiotics, sometimes requiring these medicines be given into the vein (IV) rather than by mouth. The current story involves the first bacteria is that is not be treatable with any antibiotics.”

Q: Should there be any concerns for Pa. residents given a case was discovered in the state?

A: “This particular case is not contagious. However, the superbug (a form of E. coli) could potentially become a bigger problem through spread or other types of bacteria evolving the same type of resistance.”

Q: What can the medical community do about superbugs?

A: “This is further confirmation that we should only prescribe antibiotics when they are truly necessary. Overuse of antibiotics can cause the bacteria to become resistant. Research needs to be focused quickly on forming newer antibiotics to treat these superbugs.”

Dr. Chad Jumper is a family practice physician at Boiling Springs Family Medicine and is board certified in family medicine. Check Boiling Springs Family Medicine on Twitter @DrChadJumper and on Facebook. This information is intended for educational purposes. Please consult your health care provider for advice about treatments that may affect your individual health.

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