Cross posted from Stormwarning's Counterterrorism blog at his request
Its natural bio-terrorism. But its clear that this threat, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, is making its way home from the battlefields of the War on Terror. It has long been known that during a National health crisis, the potential for additional deaths due to antibiotic-resistant hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) running rampant could become a serious problem. Its a concern shared by many in the disaster response and medical responder communities. Now, we face the problem in frontline battlefield hospitals, and its coming home.
“The outbreak,” according to a Defense Department fact sheet, “appears to have started during the care of patients (both US military and non-US) in the combat support hospitals of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Once the bacteria has gotten a foothold at the frontline surgical sites, it begins “traveling with patients or on patients from Iraq all the way back to Walter Reed, with stops along the way through the evacuation chain and getting into our hospitals.
This is a health crisis in real time. Its growing, and its growing unabated. And its estimated that 90-100,000 people die yearly in the U.S. from HAIs.
One soldier, Sgt. David Emery was wounded by an IED in February 2007. Doctors were in the process of saving his severely injured leg when it became infected with acinebacter. Doctors were forced to amputate. Its a growing problem…and most people aren’t aware of it.
Researchers say they don’t know exactly how acinetobacter baumannii first made its way into frontline treatment facilities. Early suspicions pointed to the possibility that the germs, mixed with soil, were blown deep into penetrating wounds. Some physicians speculated that bacteria residing in the combat zone had settled onto the skin of service members-lying dormant until open wounds allowed the bugs to create havoc. Small-sample testing, however, has indicated little or no evidence of problem-causing acinetobacter in Iraqi soil. And the only Iraq or Afghanistan veterans so far showing signs of acinetobacter colonization on their skin are those who have spent time in casualty treatment centers.
Moreover, say scientists, nothing in the character of the outbreak would indicate that it originated as a result of intentional biological attack.
From March 2003 to March 2005 acinetobacter infections attacked more than 250 patients at U.S. military healthcare facilities.
Two key issues seem behind the persistence of the outbreak. A number of infectious disease specialists point to difficulties in completely ridding hospital environments of acinetobacter. Doing so, they say, requires more stringent cleaning than that typically sufficient to kill other bacteria. Additionally, several express concern that policies on antibiotic use differ at commands and hospitals along the casualty evacuation chain.
So…its natural…its not man-made…but yet, it is bioterrorism on the battlefields. And we’re still losing the battle against this enemy. The biggest problem with this enemy is that it is able to steal resistance capabilities from other bacteria with which it comes into contact. Thus, its virulence. And BTW, you should spend a moment reading the first comment to this post shown below.
Please go and read the comments, one is from the wife of a soldier who gives a personal testimony, and leave your comments and thoughts._____________________________________________________________________________
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