'Superbug' in Los Angeles Hospital Linked to 2 Deaths, 179 Others May Have Been Exposed

FDA warns doctors that commonly used medical scope could facilitate the spread of deadly bacteria.
7:23 | 02/19/15

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Transcript for 'Superbug' in Los Angeles Hospital Linked to 2 Deaths, 179 Others May Have Been Exposed
Concerns today over a so called super bug has already affected. Seven patients at a Los Angeles hospital and officials say it may have contributed to two deaths. Hello everyone I'm Elizabeth her in new York and hospital officials also say that dozens more have already been infected. ABC's Karen Travers has the latest. Oh warnings gone out to nearly 180. Patients treated at UCLA's Ronald Reagan medical center. They may have been exposed to a potentially. Deadly bacteria. It's a very. Potent virulent organism that can cause you know. That it's a drug resistant super bug known as CRE. Likely transmitted to patients through contaminated endo Scopes. Officials at UCLA say they've aideed to reusable Scopes that may have spread the CRE bacteria. And they immediately remove them. The hospital said in a statement that so far seven patients have tested positive. And in internal investigation found the outbreak made contributed to two deaths. UCLA says it's sterilize the Scopes according to manufacture standards. If it's not cleaned out. Quote and quote cleaned out appropriately then many can spread from one person from other. But now the hospitals using a decontamination. Process that goes above and beyond the manufacturer. And national standards. The CDC says that in people that are infected we CRE. The death rates can be as high as 50% but medical experts say that even though the outbreak is concerning. Not everyone who's exposed to CRE develops an infection. Many people can have this in their body and won't cause any problem. This isn't the first outbreak linked to its scope. And medical experts say despite precautions. It won't be the last Karen Travers ABC news Washington. And here with us again is doctor Richard vasser ABC's chief health and medical editor doctor investors think you so much for joining us. Let's get right to it. First explain to was. Who really is at risk here. And he's resistant organisms are are are really a problem for people with chronic medical problems were in the hospital allot. So these are people who were in the hospital they're getting frequent courses of antibiotics he may have conditions that require them to have in. Different different lines ID es urinary catheters those kinds of things. They keep it an access point for these kind of dangerous germs to get into the body he really are not a risk to the general public. And so earlier we were hearing that after those who may be infected will die from it and that is because. Of the danger of this infection for what you just described it's really important to dive down into that number it. If you get an infection with this in your bloodstream in general that means that you're very sick person most likely in the intensive cared. And for this type of germ who were running out of antibiotics to use to treat it for some of them their untreatable for others yet he's very old antibiotics that are not very effective. But most people who who were exposed to this particular germ they get in their body. It will live in their body it's called cod being colonized it will live there but it won't cause an infection and over time their Bible to skew. But it's those people who. Haven't living on their body or in their body goes into the hospital and get it cracked courses or risk of having this kind of infection word. This outbreak happened we hurting parents peace hospital said they followed the procedure. And the standards of to sterilize these Scopes yet. Well the Food and Drug Administration just put out at sea the advisory about this. This is a particular type of scope it's being used it's not the scope that people go in and when he when he turned fifty and have their Colin looked at its it. Very special scope it goes in from above he goes into a tiny little thought is that leads into the pancreas. In its tiny and it makes cleaning very very difficult it's not the first outbreak linked to one of these Scopes. And so the FDA is calling attention to this and saying there's specialized cleaning procedures that need to be gone but this is this just to put in perspective. This procedures done each year in America 500000. Times. They've been about a hundred cases of of this infection from so for most people. You need to have this procedure done haven't done the risk is not that great you just mentioned that this isn't the first time Etsy it was front 2012 to 2014. Case in Seattle but that's also the only time can really quickly talked to was about the pre. Yet so so outbreaks of this have have happened before. There's there's great concern about these type of in infections he CRE infections occurred more often. And some of them have come from people traveling overseas. Some traveling overseas to have medical procedures done then bring them back. It's hard to get an accurate count how many of these cases of this infection are occurring around the country. But this is the people I talked to today the CDC. Are very concerned they want to draw attention. To the hospital procedures that have begun so you have these people in Los Angeles we're going to be tested. If they have this this bacteria in them they're not be given an antibiotic. But every time they come into the hospital they can be treated differently in acquitted isolation. So they don't spread it to other people. What you find is if you follow strict isolation precautions and you practice good hand washing. You can limit the spread in Chicago it had big outbreak of this in the past and they implement strict controls they were able to get control. So they were able to bring it under control yet it. Popped up again too hot and you briefly went over what hospitals doing now but what I think doing to help the potentially infected patients well one thing is you for patients in the hospitals that. Press being very careful about how often use by. Every time you get him by it doesn't just kill off the that dangerous bacteria too worried. He kills off a lot bacteria live on our bodies and provide protection. And that allows. Bacteria like this that resistance is only about to spread to grow to take over. And it was so you want to make sure every time you're getting antibiotics are doctors are returning giving them. That is it it truly is necessary. And then practicing good infection control I tell people when they go in the hospital that should be someone sitting by the bedside making sure that before anyone touches you. They've seen you why it makes you basing that person wash their hands and that can really be a very helpful way of making sure when you at a hospital he'll pick up something unique and you hope that's the least we can do thank you so much and that fastener. With us and of course online and on air you can stay with ABC news for the latest on this developing story for now. Actor in the.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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