Researchers find uncommon superbug strain in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An otherwise uncommon strain of superbug has become prevalent in the Houston area, according to local researchers.

In a new study published in the journal mBio, a team of Houston Methodist-led researchers detailed their work studying the bacterial pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae, one of the most common causes of infections in American hospitals.

K. pneumoniae can cause severe infections and illnesses like pneumonia and meningitis in hospitalized patients. Strains of pathogen have also been identified in parts of Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, but have not been identified so abundantly in such a small area, according to researchers.

While certain strains of K. pneumoniae can be largely antibiotic resistant, the strain identified in Houston still responds to certain antibiotics. It was identified in one-third of patients studied.

According to the study's lead author, Dr. James M. Musser, it's not yet clear how the strain became so common in the Houston area.

"Because Klebsiella pneumoniae is a common and important cause of human infections, we urgently need to identify potential vaccine targets or other new treatments, and develop new and rapid diagnostic techniques," Dr. Musser said in a news release.

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