Drug-resistant bacterial infections reported in 20 states, worldwide

ARLINGTON, Va. Drug-resistant bacterial infections recently have been reported in more than 20 states across the United States, and now are responsible for an outbreak in Tel Aviv, Israel, according to a report in USA Today on Thursday, citing information from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

The bacterial infections prove fatal in as many as 60% of all cases.

The outbreak in Tel Aviv has been traced to northern New Jersey, Neil Fishman, director of SHEA, told the national daily. The bacteria in question are equipped with a gene that enables them to produce an enzyme that disables antibiotics. The enzyme is called Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenamase, or KPC. It disables carbapenem antibiotics, or last-ditch treatments for infections that don't respond to other drugs.

The infections are taking place primarily in hospital settings and have not yet spread to the general community.

The problem may be of greater concern than methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, given the number of alternative treatments that are available. The only drug that appears to make any headway against carbapenem-resistant germs is polymyxin, a medicine that has fallen out of favor with doctors given the toxicity to the kidneys, Fishman said.