LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Nearly 180 patients at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to a drug-resistant bacteria that's been linked to two deaths at the Los Angeles hospital, health officials said.
A spokeswoman for the UCLA Health Systems, Roxanne Yamaguchi, said Wednesday seven patients who were treated at the hospital were infected by carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE). She said the deadly superbug was a contributing factor in the death of two of those patients.
The patients were likely exposed to CRE through contaminated medical scopes between October and January. The scopes were used for endoscopic procedures in the throats of cancer and gallstone patients.
The hospital discovered the outbreak in late January while running tests on a patient. It began to notify the other potentially infected patients this week.
Once CRE spreads to the bloodstream, it kills 40 percent to 50 percent of the time.
The hospital said it had been cleaning the scopes "according to standards stipulated by the manufacturer." It plans to change the cleaning protocol in response to the outbreak.