LOS ANGELES -- At least 179 patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center may have been exposed to a potentially deadly "superbug."
The possible exposure to carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) happened "during complex endoscopic procedures between October 2014 and January 2015," the hospital said in a statement.
The scopes used for the procedures were sterilized, the hospital said, but an internal investigation found that CRE "may have been transmitted during a procedure that uses this specialized scope to diagnose and treat pancreaticobiliary diseases."
The statement revealed that seven UCLA patients have been infected by CRE, and it may have been a "contributing factor in the death of two patients."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CRE is difficult to treat because the germs have high levels of resistance to antibiotics.
The two scopes involved with the exposure have been removed, and UCLA is now in the process of decontamination.
The patients will be offered a free home testing kit that will be analyzed at UCLA.
The Los Angeles County Department of Health and the California Department of Public Health have been notified.