Corcoran woman dies from superbug bacteria

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Action News has uncovered new details about a Corcoran woman who got sick and died after she was infected by a bacteria so strong it is now known as the superbug.

Antonia Cerda was a 48-year-old mother of four who lived in Corcoran. Her family has asked for privacy during this time. Their attorney is suing the company Olympus on her behalf.

The superbug outbreak at UCLA Medical Center has infected seven people so far including two patients who died. Corcoran native Antonia Cerda was admitted to the hospital for a liver transplant last year. In a phone interview her attorney told us the device called an endoscope was used on her and every other patient who got sick with a highly drug-resistant bacteria known as the superbug.

"If you get sick with this bacteria, you get infected with this bacteria, you could take every prescription antibiotic you have ever taken in your life and it would do nothing and it would continue to get worse and worse and worse," said attorney Pete Kaufman.

Court documents filed in Los Angeles on Wednesday claim the company, Olympus, which manufactures the endoscope could have prevented Cerda's death. An endoscope has a camera which gives doctors a better look inside their patients. The lawsuit claims Olympus redesigned the scope in 2014 but failed to update the way the small hand held device is disinfected after being used.

"In June of 2014 they changed that scope physically but they didn't update the cleaning protocol. They never figured out if the old cleaning protocol worked, and they never took the time to develop a new cleaning protocol that would work," added Kaufman.

Court papers state that failure to change the cleaning methods was crucial and left body fluids inside the device which posed a danger to many others by spreading the superbug.

"They failed to ensure this scope would be effectively cleaned and so they should have assumed contamination would have been passed from patient to patient," said Kaufman.

We reached out to representatives from Olympus for a comment. They did not respond to our calls and emails but in a statement the company says it is giving additional instructions to users of the endoscopes and working with federal officials.

In the statement Olympus also says the company emphasizes careful sterilization of their medical devices. Cerda's family is suing the company to cover her medical costs, funeral expenses and damages caused by her death.

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