- They are apparently arising out of the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters.
- They seems to have spread throughout much of the U.S. military medical facilities.
- There are increasing outbreaks in civilian medical facilities across the United States.
- The problematic AB variant is apparently the "culprit" (at least in civilian facilities).
- The AB under discussion is more than a "superbug."
"When a team of geneticists unlocked the secret of the bug's rapid evolution in 2005, they found that one strain of multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii carries the largest collection of genetic upgrades ever discovered in a single organism. Out of its 52 genes dedicated to defeating antibiotics, radiation, and other weapons of mass bacterial destruction, nearly all have been bootlegged from other bad bugs like Salmonella, Pseudomonas, and Escherichia coli."In 2005 there was a multiple city outbreak of AB infections. According to researchers, 97% of the cases they studied "belonged to one clone." In other words, 97% of the cases were a genetic match to each other even though they occurred in different cities. As with the recent salmonella outbreak, a bacterial clone means a single point of transmission. This offers a way to track the AB that is occurring to its source, but there are no reports that I found indicating this is happening. What these two different reports - Silberman's and the doctors writing the multicity outbreak report - seem to be saying is that the MDR AB outbreak happening across the country is genetically the same "superbug," and that it is an radically "upgraded" bug. From a November 2004 Center for Disease Control (CDC)report we know that there were increasing reports of AB infections in those being treated at military medical facilities in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. This was later reported to have spread to the Lundstahl facility, and then to Walter Reed, and then on to other military medical facilities in the United States. There has apparently little action taken to communicate between the U.S. military and civilian medical groups (including the CDC) regarding the AB infections coming out of the Afghanistan/Iraq theaters, even though there have been concerns about the threat since 2002. Finally, in 2007 there was a testing of shared reporting in the military health system on AB cases. In other words, not only is the military not systematically reporting to U.S. civilian health officials, but they are not communicating within the military health system itself. Is this just another case of systems failure that we have seen over and over under the current Bush administration, or is there something else going on? As a lay person looking at what information does seem to be available, I have several questions that I wish those with the medical and biological background would investigate. 1. Does the "upgraded" nature of the MDR Acinetobacter baumanni infection indicate a natural evolution, or engineering? If engineering, who made it and for what purposes? 2. After at least 6 years of known infections "in theater," why has there not been action to:
- a) track down the source of the infections and stop (or control) it;
- b) set up an effective military tracking and monitoring system;
- c) set up an communication and monitoring system with civilian facilities;
- d) communicate with the public about this issue?