Rare drug-resistant infection found in Laramie County patient

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A rare antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection has been found in a Laramie County resident receiving care at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, according to a release from the Wyoming Department of Health.

Recent testing showed the organism infecting the patient, an enterobacteriaceae, also included a rare antibiotic-resistant gene known as MCR-1. It does not appear the infection was acquired at the hospital.

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Dr. HooFeng Choo, CRMC’s infectious disease specialist, said “Thankfully, the patient continues to receive care, has responded to treatment and is in good condition.”

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said this type of infection is quite rare and potentially serious.

“When bacteria become antibiotic-resistant, then certain categories of antibiotic medicines will not work to kill the bacteria to treat an infection,” Harrist said. “In this case, the organism found is resistant to a category of antibiotics sometimes described as ‘last resort’ medications used to fight infections. The gene found with this patient has been identified in only a handful of states over the past few years.”

“We are working closely with the hospital to prevent the spread of this bacteria,” Harrist said. “Although this finding is unexpected and something we are taking seriously, we believe the contact precautions already in place at the hospital have likely limited the potential spread of the bacteria.”

Contact precautions require anyone entering the patient’s room to wear protective gloves and clothing and to follow strict handwashing practices.

Harrist noted WDH epidemiologists are working with CRMC to follow up on the hospital’s infection control measures.

“We all want to be extremely cautious. Together with hospital staff, we will review potential exposures to the organism and work to test anyone found to be at risk,” she said. “While antibiotic resistance is a growing overall problem for public health, there should be no concern for local residents because of this incident.”

Testing performed at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory, part of WDH, helped identify the nature of the infection, which was confirmed by a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention network laboratory.

“Wyoming’s hospital testing guidelines and public health surveillance system are meant to discover these rare organisms so the hospital and public health can work quickly to limit spread as much as possible,” Harrist said. “That’s exactly what we are doing with this incident.”