An outbreak of a rare infectious pathogen at a New Mexico nursing home has focused attention on a serious - and potentially deadly problem. In January 2014, a resident at Casa Maria Nursing Home in Roswell became infected with Clostridium difficile, a highly contagious pathogen that causes fever, abdominal cramps and violent diarrhea. The outbreak spread, infecting more residents of the facility. Despite the state's requirement that such outbreaks be reported within 24 hours, Casa Maria management waited until March to inform New Mexico health authorities. By the time the outbreak was over in June, 15 residents had been infected, and eight were dead.
An investigative report by Reuters highlights the scope of the problem. One of its disturbing findings is the fact that many state health authorities are prohibited by law from disclosing information on the location and extent of superbug outbreaks.