Segments in this Video

Nightmare Virus (03:43)


In May of 2011, Addie Rerecich contracts a virus. Tonya Rerecich, reflects on her daughter's rapid deterioration.

Community Associated MRSA (03:45)

Dr. Sean Elliott believes Addie is suffering from a staph infection causing septic shock. Doctors give Addie a 30% chance of survival. She is placed on a lung bypass machine, but contracts Stenotrophomonas from the procedure.

Post-Antibiotic Era (03:16)

Addie is treated with numerous antibiotics because her bacterial infection is mutating and becoming resistant. Tonya is told by doctors that Addie's Stenotrophomonas is officially pan-drug resistant.

Missionary in India (03:42)

David Ricci travels to India with a mission group to work in an orphanage. On one of his daily trips to the orphanage, David is run over by a train. His leg is amputated, but the deterioration of his health leads to daily surgeries to remove an infection.

Drug Resistant Gene (02:01)

In 2011, India experiences a superbug crisis. NDM-1 is a resistance gene that can turn bacteria into superbugs. Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan explains the danger of this gene in the social environment.

NDM-1 Travels to America (02:19)

After two weeks in an Indian hospital, David is flown back home to Seattle, Washington. He is the first to bring NDM-1 into the United States. Dr. John Lynch orders a quarantine.

Final Treatment Procedure (01:15)

Dr. Lynch uses his last treatment option, a 1940s antibiotic called Colistin. After it proves too toxic, doctors remove more of David's leg to reduce the infection.

Homegrown Superbug (03:41)

Over the last 10 years, hospitals in New York City have become the epicenter for the drug resistant gene, KPC. The NIH recounts how it attempted to contain KPC in the summer of 2011.

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Outbreak (02:35)

In 2011, NIH discovers KPC bacteria in a respiratory culture. Within days, numerous patients are testing positive for KPC resulting in an outbreak.

Reaching the End of Drug Treatment (03:50)

Julie Segre and Evan Snitkin begin comparing the DNA of KPC samples. It is discovered that KPC has the ability to live in the stomach of patients without causing infections. The outbreak spreads to the general population at NIH.

Essence of Antibiotic Resistance (02:26)

Antibiotics are the only class of drug that lose effectiveness the more they are used. Dr. Arjum Srinivasan asserts that bacterial resistance is inevitable.

Gram-Negative Treatment Research (02:48)

Dr. John Rex describes the timeline of growing antibiotic resistant bacteria. Pharmaceutical companies begin pulling out of the antibiotic research field just as the Gram-negative threat worsens. John Quinn, of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, takes on the challenge of creating new antibiotics.

Catastrophe of Our Age (03:13)

Bringing Gram-negative treatment drugs onto the market is halted by the economic paradox of antibiotics. In 2011, Pfizer's stock plummets on Wall Street, and the company leaves the antibiotic development industry.

Public Health Problem (03:49)

Questions are being raised about whether the U.S. government is prepared to confront the problem of antibiotic resistant viruses. Hoffman interviews the associate director of the CDC, Dr. Srinivasan. In March 2013, the CDC warns the public of nightmare bacteria.

Hidden Epidemic (01:09)

The CDC now estimates that every year at least 2 million people are infected with resistant bacteria. Dr. Laxminarayan asserts that if awareness of this epidemic increases, policy action would also increase.

Changing Hospital Culture (01:03)

Two years after KPC first came to NIH, another patient dies of the antibiotic resistant bacteria. Dr. David Henderson advises that this organism will remain in the human species until the end.

Global Health Concern (01:58)

After two years of treatment, doctors believe they have removed all the NDM-1 from David's leg. Dr. Lynch explains how bacteria such as NDM-1 are already a public health problem.

Life After the Infection (04:04)

Two years after Addie received a lung transplant, her daily life is filled with medications and health concerns. Her mother is grateful for every extra minute she can share with her daughter.

Credits: Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria (02:29)

Credits: Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The CDC describes a frightening new threat spreading quickly in hospitals, communities, and across the globe as “nightmare bacteria.” FRONTLINE reporter David Hoffman investigates the alarming rise of untreatable infections: from a young girl thrust onto life support in an Arizona hospital, to an American infected in India who comes home to Seattle, and an uncontrollable outbreak at the nation's most prestigious hospital, where eighteen patients were mysteriously infected and six died, despite frantic efforts to contain the killer bacteria. Fueled by decades of antibiotic overuse, the crisis has deepened as major drug companies, squeezed by Wall Street expectations, have abandoned the development of new antibiotics. Without swift action, the miracle age of antibiotics could be coming to an end. Distributed by PBS Distribution.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL114688

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.