CLL Support Association
8,940 members14,282 posts

Explainer: what are superbugs and how can we control them?

We've had previous posts about superbugs and hopefully these will remain a theoretical consideration for us. Unfortunately, given we have compromised immune systems with CLL, we'd be wise to be aware of the different types of superbugs and how we can protect ourselves from them. Prof. M. Lindsay Grayson, Professor of Infectious Disease at University of Melbourne, explains that superbugs can broadly be split into categories that infect the skin, airways, sexual organs and the gut and explains how we can be at risk and what we need to do to minimise that risk:

Some quotes particularly relevant to us:

"Bugs found on the skin... cause skin infections associated with skin-penetrating procedures such as intravenous (IV) lines and surgical operations."

With respect to airways superbugs, "Pneumonia vaccines can also reduce disease rates and therefore prevent the need for antibiotics.

Transmission between patients and in crowded locations is a key challenge. There is some evidence to suggest it can be prevented with the use of simple face masks."

Gastrointestinal superbugs...are...the key cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and infections following gynaecology and prostate surgery.


To complicate matters further, the food supply in some countries is now contaminated with gut superbugs, due to uncontrolled antibiotic use in farm animals. Simply eating such food can lead to gut superbug acquisition."

Reassuringly, protecting ourselves from superbugs need not be expensive; cleaning with bleach along with good hand hygiene and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, along with the use of facial masks where appropriate can mitigate much of the risk.


Photo: Lichen on a tree trunk

2 Replies

This popped into my mailbox and grabbed my attention... today. Very complex, I'm just glad somebody is looking into this stuff...

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections are a mounting concern for health care systems globally. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Acinetobacter baumannii is emerging as a frequent cause of difficult-to-treat nosocomial infections, and some isolates are resistant to all clinically relevant antibiotics.





Seems there are four basic ways in which bacteria can develop antibiotic resistance:

The origins and molecular basis of antibiotic resistance

Looks like Acinetobacter baumannii has developed resistance by the fourth method, but in removing the antibiotic target it has also lost its ability to poison other bacteria!


You may also like...