But a few weeks later, the hospital staff was "horrified," said Tara Palmore, an NIH infection control specialist, when a second patient tested positive for the bacteria.
A third and fourth soon followed.
"This was our introduction to antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella," Palmore
"We eventually learned that they were all connected," said Palmore
of the 17 patients.
If monitors fell asleep or otherwise shirked, Palmore
fired them and found new ones.
At one point, nine monitors were on duty.
"It was an enormous effort on a daily basis," Palmore
"Every single time a new patient, a new case came to light, it felt like a failure," Palmore
"It felt like a string of failures."
A measure of success
But by January, the strict measures had finally paid off.
No new cases have occurred since, Palmore
said, although two Klebsiella-positive patients remain at the hospital.
"I would say we controlled the outbreak, but we're in constant danger of transmission from patients still here," she
"We're not out of the woods yet."
"This is the moment that my professors talked about when we would run out of antibiotics," said Palmore
, recalling lectures two decades ago warning of a new era of nasty superbugs.