A bacteria that is being referred by the CDC as a “nightmare bacteria” is killing up to half of the patients who are infected by this. The official name of this bacteria is Cardapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE. This bacteria has been increasing over the past 10 years. There have been 200 health care facilities alone that have treated patients with CRE in 2012.
CRE is a stubborn bacteria and leaves patients with potentially untreatable infections and is very resistant to the best most powerful antibiotics. It infects many different body systems such as the bloodstream, soft tissues, the urinary tract and can cause pneumonia. It thrives on patients already sick in hospitals. Some ways this is spreading is via ventilators, catheters or other equipment handled by medical caregivers moving from patient to patient.
The first known case in the United States was detected in a North Carolina hospital in 2001. The bacteria made headlines this summer after a CRE strain hit the National Institute of Health Clinical Center outside WashingtonD.C. Seven people died, which included a 16 year old boy. According to the CDC this bacteria has appeared in 42 states and are prevalent in certain areas such as the Northeast and are problematic in long-term acute-care hospitals, of which 18% of them had at least one CRE infection in the first six months of 2012. Hospital-acquired infections sicken about 1.7 million people and 99,000 people die in the United States a year. Up to 50% of patients with CRE bloodstream infections die while antibiotic-susceptible bacteria kill about 20% of bloodstream-infected patients a year. Many cases go unrecognized until it is too late for the patient.
The CDC is using their “detect and protect” strategy to put a stop to these infections spreading. This strategy includes implementing and making sure proper hygiene policies are in place and being practiced at health care facilities such as proper hand washing. Also, patients should be screened for CRE and infected patients should be isolated or grouped together to limit spreading of this bacteria. By doing these acts of prevention officials are hoping to stop the CRE infection rates from becoming an epidemic. The CDC is urging states to keep track of the cases but only a handful are doing so.
The silver-lining in this is that not only is CRE seen infrequently in most US facilities but current surveillance systems have not been able to find it in otherwise healthy people in the community.