CRE Bacteria Threaten Health Care Facilities

WASHINGTON — At a press conference earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked inpatient medical care facilities nationwide to take action against a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which kill up to half of infected patients.

The bacteria, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), have increased fourfold over the past decade from 1.2 percent in 2001 to 4.2 percent in 2011. In the first half of 2012, 200 health care facilities (18 percent of long-term acute care hospitals and 4 percent of short-stay hospitals) treated patients with CRE. And facilities in 42 states have reported at least one case of CRE.

While infections are uncommon, the bacteria pose what CDC Director Thomas Frieden called a “triple threat.” The bacteria are resistant to antibiotics; they kill up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them; and they can transfer their antibiotic resistance to other bacteria within the family, possibly making other bacteria also untreatable. Almost all CRE infections occur in patients that receive care for serious conditions.

The germs spread from person to person, usually on the hands of health care professionals. The CDC said the spread of CRE can be controlled using standard infection control precautions, such as washing hands and having dedicated staff, rooms and equipment to care for patients with CRE. The CDC also requires health care facilities to inform each other when they are transferring a patient with CRE and suggests asking patients about recent medical care elsewhere, especially in other countries. Prescribing antibiotics wisely can also reduce the problem because the fewer antibiotics are used, the less likely that antibiotic resistance will occur. Check more info here:

As of now, the bacteria have not spread to the wide community, but if they do, the situation would be much more difficult to control, according to the CDC.