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n. Informal
A strain of bacteria that has become resistant to most antibiotics.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


An informal term for an infective micro-organism that has become resistant to antibiotics and is capable of causing serious infection. Rapid evolutionary natural selection forces have ensured that some organisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus and various Enterobacteriaceae , are now resistant to virtually all the earlier antibiotics; and resistance to a range of antibiotics has arisen in numerous other organisms including those causing bacillary dysentery, food poisoning, gonorrhoea and tuberculosis.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005

Patient discussion about superbug

Q. Are superbugs contagious through the air? Last week we visited my dad in the hospital, and we noticed that on the next room’s door there was a warning sign. After asking, we were told it was a denoting that the patient inside had a superbug (called klebsiella). On our way out we passed against this patient in the hallway – is it possible that I also carry this superbag? Is it dangerous?

A. Usually these bacteria are transmitted from person to person through direct contact, and less through the air. Moreover, these germs are dangerous in ill and debilitated patients, and not in normal healthy individuals.

More discussions about superbug
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References in periodicals archive ?
We mimicked antibiotic and antacid treatments, as both could affect the ability of superbugs to survive the passage from the stomach to the intestines," said Maeusli.
[twitter-tweet]In Gaza, a scourge of superbugs is beginning to resemble the days before penicillin saved millions from death and disability.
coli was linked to the most deaths, it is actually the least-likely superbug to kill you, should you catch it.
Read on below the official letter from the chairs to participants, and reserve your ticket to attend SMi's Superbugs & Superdrugs USA Conference via
Many factors have contributed to the rise of superbugs, include overuse and misuse of antibiotics - doctors prescribing them when they are not needed and patients who don't complete their drug schedules, thus exposing bacteria to the medications without killing them, which allows them to build up an immunity to the drugs.
The news follows a period of relative improvement between 2004 and 2008, when the number of cases of superbugs, such as E.coli and MRSA, had fallen.
YOUNGSTERS have been asked to come up with their ideas of a scary "superbug" of the future.
Furthermore, many of these diseases are being found to be drug resistant, a sure sign of superbugs. To quote a Swedish scientist who tested the waters for antibiotics, "Some pharmaceuticals were [of] higher [concentration] in the water than in the blood of a patient who takes medication." With these levels of concentrated antibiotics in the river, the research group also found many strains of environmental bacteria that had grown resistance to the drugs.
There are six superbugs that are cause for concern: carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, extended spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa and multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter.
In the last 18 months alone, two new strains of MRSA-resistant superbugs have evolved in farmed animals - pigs and dairy cows - but life has gone on as normal.
MRSA is one of the most lethal "superbugs" that are increasingly worrying scientists and health officials.