Health

California Senate votes to beef up superbug tracking

California lawmakers want to track infections that don't respond to antibiotic treatment.
California lawmakers want to track infections that don't respond to antibiotic treatment.
LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

Listen to story

00:12
Download this story 0.0MB

The California Senate Tuesday approved a bill that would give the state the power to greatly expand the list of so-called superbug infections that hospitals would have to report.

Currently, California requires hospitals to report three types of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Under SB 43, the state department of public health could increase that list to 18. That's how many infections are listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "urgent," "serious" or "concerning."

The bill would also require the state to report the number of deaths caused by these infections each year.

The measure now moves on to the State Assembly.

Los Angeles and Orange counties already track the spread of one superbug, known as CRE.

A CRE outbreak that killed two patients at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center between October 2014 and January 2015 was traced back to dirty duodenoscopes.

"The main thing was identifying what was the source of the problem and then making sure that it was eliminated," says Dr. Ben Schwartz, acting director of Acute Communicable Disease Control for the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

Schwartz explains when hospitals tracking these infections, they can find patterns. In the case of the CRE outbreak, the county helped hospitals investigate the source.

The CDC estimates that superbugs kill more than 23,000 Americans each year.