KPC Super Bug in Guanabara Bay

On December 16, 2014 it was announced that there is a Super Bacteria Enzyme KPC (Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase) in Guanabara Bay waters, near the 2016 Olympic Sailing regatta marina. Rio’s renowned Oswaldo Cruz Institute did the testing and discovered its presence.  KPC is drug resistant requiring hospitalization to treat, the symptoms include “urinary, gastrointestinal and pulmonary infections,” according to the BBC.

What is KPC and what makes it so special?

A PBS FRONTLINE story on “Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria” featured KPC.  A New York patient was brought to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hospital in Bethesda, MD, it was the first time they had seen KPC.  Using all precautions to prevent its spread, it spread around the hospital anyway in ways not understood.  The NIH couldn’t figure out how it spread. After four weeks, the New York patient was released from the hospital after being treated with antibiotics not normally used.

With this patient in the Intensive Care Unit, with patients in other rooms with diseases such as cancer or AIDs and with their immune systems weakened, acquired KPC.  Six of those with suppressed immunity died from KPC.

KPC is already in the United States, it is not a bacteria that requires reporting.  KPC has been found in hospitals in 44 States who volunteered the information.

Some people are carriers of KPC.  They show no symptoms, but do spread the disease unknowingly.

So 300+ athletes sailing out of the Gloria Marina in Guanabara Bay over the next two weeks could contract this disease.  Reports say that it would be hard to acquire, but remains a possibility.  It probably won’t kill any athletes (it is hard to imagine an athlete with a suppressed immune system battling a major disease).  But those athletes can take KPC back to their home countries and possibly kill innocent victims.

To learn more, watch FRONTLINE from 21:25 – 31:35 and 45:04 – 46:06:

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