RENO, NV - Steve Winters contemplates a table full of family pictures at his south Reno home.
"This is a picture of my mom," he says, picking up a large photo showing him standing next to an elderly woman. Her face shows her sturdy Scandanavian bloodlines. "She was 80," he says, "but a young 80. She had a real lust for life.
It's still painful for Winters to look at these pictures orrelive his mother's final weeks, but it's something that now helps fuel his efforts working toward a day when others won't have to repeat his loss.
Bonnie Winters entered a local hospital almost a year ago with pneumonia. She beat the lung infection, but along the way she apparently picked up something much worse--bacterial infections that modern day medicine barely touch.
MRSA is the best known, but there are others like CRKP whose names read like a deadly alphabet soup. As Bonnie Winters moved from one hospital to another she may have contracted more than 10 of them.
"She went in with none," Winters says. "All of them were acquired in the hospital."
Once the infections spread in her body, Bonnie Winters conditions deteriorated rapidly.
Winters picks up a hand-held recorder containing a phone message from the hospital indicating his mother was improving and he should make plans for her to come home.
It's followed by one left 48 hours later indicating she was in serious trouble.
What followed was a long death watch over which neither Winters nor her doctors had any control.
"I wanted her to live out the rest of her life happily," he says. "I failed. It was horrible."
These infections are all the more scary because they come from bacteria that may be pretty common but develop resistance to most antibiotics.
They are emerging as a major threat to public health, aimed at the most vulnerable in hospitals and nursing homes.
"It's like an arms race," says Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Director, "and in many cases, the germs are winning."
These infections are showing up everywhere. CRKP is one of the latest. The Centers for Disease Control have been tracking it acorss 35 states since 2009.
Since they are so hard to fight. The best line of defense is prevention.
Winters has been networking with others who have lost loved ones. He believes medical care facilities know how to prevent the infections, but aren't doing enough.
"Hospitals don't have good controls"
Worse yet, he says, they aren't being open enough about the threat. He says he owes it to his mother to help change that.
"If you don't love your mother maybe it doesn't matter. I loved my mother."
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