Tuesday morning, the Washington Post (at least in the online version) had a story about FDA action against a company whose duodenoscopes were very difficult to decontaminate and which have been linked to CRE, carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, bacteria that are incredibly difficult, if not impossible to treat with antibiotics. Here’s how the story looked Tuesday morning–see if you can find what’s wrong:


That’s right: a “‘superbug’ virus.” As of Tuesday evening, the text now reads “superbug.” If a biologist were to mix up, let’s say, social security and income taxes while discussing politics, she would never hear the end of it, but apparently, it’s alright, when reporting on health issues, to confuse bacteria with viruses.

In 2015.

Now in fairness, the rest of the story reads as if the writer understands what he’s writing about. I can’t help but think that some dumbass editor decided to jazz up the lede, and in so doing, completely fucked up the biology (really, the characteristics of infection and treatment are very different between the two. It matters).

This didn’t help: if we don’t contain CRE, it could become an awful health crisis–we would be returning to a partial pre-antibiotic era. Someone at The Post should figure out why this happened and then make sure it doesn’t happen ever again.

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  1. Arjun says:

    But who’s going to care about a Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae when “superbug” virus is so much more exciting. I especially like that they put “superbug” in scare quotes as if rational level-headed people would call it a virus.

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