Superbug Outbreak Linked to Dirty Tools
NDM hung onto endoscopes despite rigorous disinfection
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2014 11:30 AM CST
A doctor holds a modern endoscope in this stock image.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Centers for Disease Control officials were surprised by last year's sudden spike in cases of NDM CRE, a drug-resistant superbug, in northeastern Illinois. And they were even more surprised when they discovered a common link between the patients: They had a history of endoscopic liver and pancreas exams. It turns out those tests were performed with endoscopes that, despite high-level disinfection and proper cleaning, tested positive for NDM CRE and another superbug, NBC News reports.

The CDC didn't find any evidence that hospital staff had failed in cleaning the endoscopes, probes attached to long tubes that can snap pictures of internal organs like the liver and the pancreas. They suspect there may be a design flaw in the device that allowed the bacteria to hang on. But the hospital has since switched to a new sterilization procedure that seems to have cleared up the problem.