CDC Reports Deadly CRE “Nightmare Bacteria” spreading Through US Hospitals

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CRE Bacteria

When someone hears that a deadly antibiotic-resistant “nightmare bacteria” is spreading through U.S. nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities; it sounds like a plot to a science fiction movie. However, this is not a movie plot, but an actual warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday.

This bacteria has grown resistant to the most powerful of antibiotics and has killed up to half of patients that have become infected. CDC director Thomas Frieden told USA Today that “These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat.”

The bacteria in question is known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae or CRE and according to the CDC, has increased within the past decade; as well as growing resistant to the most powerful antibiotics out there.

Within the first half of 2012, it was reported that 200 health care offices treated patients that were infected with CRE. Frieden said in a statement that “CRE are nightmare bacteria. Our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections. Doctors, hospital leaders and public health must work together now to implement CDC’s ‘detect and protect’ strategy and stop these infections from spreading.”

Then speaking with USA Today, he added, “They’re resistant to nearly all antibiotics. They have high mortality rates, killing half of people with serious infections. And they can spread their resistance to other bacteria.”

With regards to strategy, health care facilities need to make sure they are following proper hand hygiene procedures. The CDC also suggests that not only should patients be tested for CRE but those infected should either be isolated or grouped together to limit exposures to others as best as possible.

In 2012, the CDC came up with a CRE toolkit to use when handling the germ and recommends everyone to study it as possible. “Leadership and medical staff in hospitals, long-term acute care hospitals, nursing homes, health departments, and even outpatient practices must work together to implement these recommendations to protect patients from CRE.”

Though CRE is not considered to be new, it is alarmingly becoming more common. In fact, hospitals in 42 states have reported seeing one form of CRE and the most common type of the germ has reportedly increased seven-fold over the past ten years.

Yearly, infections that are acquired in hospitals within the United States, sicken 1.7 million as well as kill 99,000 people. Though roughly 50% of those that are infected with CRE in their bloodstream die, about 20% of those with similar antibiotic-susceptible bacteria within their bloodstream die.

Antibiotic-Resistant Nightmare Bacteria on rise in US

Enterobacteriaceae bacteria include more than 70 species that normally live in the water, soil and human digestive system, such as the well-known E. coli. Over the years, some Enterobacteriaceae have become resistant to all or almost all antibiotics, including last-resort drugs known as carbapenems. Present in one U.S. state in 2001, the superbugs have now spread to 42, Frieden said at the news conference.

Over the past decade, the proportion of Enterobacteriaceae that are resistant to the last-ditch antibiotics rose to 4.2 percent from 1.2 percent.

Almost all CRE infections occur in patients receiving medical care for serious conditions in hospitals, long-term acute-care facilities (such as those providing wound care or ventilation) or nursing homes.

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