A germ, that is causing lethal antibiotic resistant infections, is sweeping through hospitals and causing major problems, say health care experts.
In their usual forms, germs from the Enterobacteriaceae family are a normal part of a person’s healthy digestive system, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When the germs become lethal, they are called Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE.
“These germs can cause infections when they get into the bladder, blood or other areas where germs don’t belong,” said the CDC.
The CDC said it has warned about CRE for more than a decade but new information shows these germs are becoming more common.
“One type of CRE has been detected in medical facilities in 42 states. Even more concerning, this report documents a seven-fold increase in the spread of the most common type of CRE during the past 10 years,” the CDC said.
The infections are nearly impossible to treat and are resistant to all or almost all antibiotics, including last-resort drugs called carbapenems, the CDC reports.
Nearly all of CRE infections happen to patients receiving serious medical care and the infections kill almost half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them, according to the CDC.
Dr. Fred McQueen, of McQueen Medical Center in Hamlet, said, “At this point, there is a hand-washing technique stressed. Unfortunately to my knowledge, there has not been any new antibiotic research by pharmaceutical companies of late and the bacteria is resistant to all available.”
The CDC said, “In addition to spreading among people, CRE easily spread their antibiotic resistance to other kinds of germs, making those potentially untreatable as well.”
In 2012, the CDC released a CRE toolkit called Guidance for Control of Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae to inform people about the steps needed to prevent further spreading.
“Prevention efforts may include personal protective equipment such as gowns and glove precautions, raising staff awareness through education, maintaining a clean environment and proper hand washing to prevent the spread of infection. The bacteria is transmitted through touch and the surface environment, and it is not found to have airborne transmission,” said Paul Jawanda, M.D., FirstHealth infectious diseases physician.
“Prevention is paramount, and for a community hospital caring for a patient with CRE, one takes a multifaceted approach,” Jawanda said.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.