A 'nightmare bacteria' found in the US has a Minnesota doctor's attention

These bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics.
Publish date:

Nightmare bacteria?

Yeah, that's the reaction we had when we first heard the name in a recent release from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). 

Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are killers to approximately 23,000 Americans every year, but the CDC says it found 221 cases of unusually resistant superbugs – which it's dubbing "nightmare bacteria" – in the U.S. in 2017. 

That's why the CDC is raising awareness. 

“CDC’s study found several dangerous pathogens, hiding in plain sight, that can cause infections that are difficult or impossible to treat,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. 

They're in all 50 states

Such cases in Minnesota have been rare, but Hennepin County Medical Center infectious disease doctor, Nick Vogenthaler, is on the lookout. 

"It's something that we definitely worry about," he explained to BMTN. "This is not something simply isolated to the United States. This is a global public health problem."

One such case the CDC identified was discovered just across the border in Iowa, where a health department found "nightmare bacteria" in a nursing home patient. 

After screening 30 patients they found that the superbug had spread to five people. 

The patients were isolated for treatment and no further spread was detected. 

Minnesota hospitals are prepared

Vogenthaler believes the CDC's report was released for two primary reasons, neither aimed at scaring the crap out of everyone.  

  1. Stress the importance of health facilities being prepared at the chance these superbugs are found. 
  2. Promote appropriate use of antibiotics, because that's how drug-resistant bacteria are created. 

To the first point, the CDC says isolating and treating patients right away is critical. 

For example, the CDC's study on one particular bacteria shows that rapid containment treatment "would prevent as many as 1,600 new infections in three years in a single state."

If the germs go untreated, they can spread like wildfire

"We have the right people here at our hospital with experience treating the infections when we do have them," Vogenthaler said. "We also have good working relationships with our local public health department, and they have good working relationships with the CDC."

All in all, nightmare bacteria is a serious threat, and Vogenthaler believes its name will help raise awareness. 

"I think it's worth raising the alarm," he said. "If you're at least taking notice that they exist, that they're common, that they can spread, and that they can really cause significant morbidity and mortality, if that's enough to encourage people to continue to support fighting them, then I think it's worth it." 

Next Up

Liam Robbins

Gophers stay perfect at home by crushing 7th-ranked Michigan

Liam Robbins and Marcus Carr were too much for the previously undefeated Wolverines.

police lights

Four teens arrested over robberies in Minneapolis

They teens were found in a vehicle that was taken during an earlier carjacking.

Boundary Waters/BWCA

All BWCA visitors will now have to watch three 'Leave No Trace' videos

Visitors left an "unacceptably high amount" of damage last year.


Ten fatal overdoses in past 6 weeks reported in region of northern MN

Law enforcement agencies have issued a plea to the general public.

u.s. district court minnesota - federal court minneapolis

Bracing for security threats, federal courthouses closing in Minnesota

Security is also being ramped up at the state capitol.

N95 mask

3M sues Florida company that sold 10K counterfeit N95 masks to HCMC

The Maplewood company has obtained a temporary injunction against the firm.

vaccine, covid

Walz, Whitmer, and Evers call on Trump Admin. to buy more vaccines

It comes after The Washington Post reported that the country's COVID vaccine reserves have been exhausted.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.