US warns over deadly, hard-to-treat bacteria (Update)

A deadly strain of hard-to-treat bacteria is spreading in US health facilities, posing a particular risk to the nation's most vulnerable patients, authorities said in a report on Tuesday.

Health officials said the bacteria has proved stubbornly resistant to treatment with antibiotics, making some infections impossible to cure.

Up to half of all patients who get blood stream infections from the bacteria die, health officials said.

The report about the lethal bacteria—carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE)—was issued by Vital Signs, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"CRE are nightmare bacteria. Our strongest antibiotics don't work, and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections," said CDC Director Tom Frieden.

Enterobacteriaceae are a family of more than 70 bacteria, including E. coli, that normally live in the digestive system.

Some of the bacteria have become resistant over the years to antibiotics known as carbapenems—often seen as the medication of last resort when treating bacteria.

Officials said the bacteria sometimes gets passed along from the hands of medical workers, creating life-threatening infections in patients whose health already is compromised, and even in otherwise healthy people.

Most at risk are people receiving significant medical care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes for the elderly and acutely ill.

Vital Signs reported that almost 200 hospitals and long-term acute care facilities treated at least one patient infected with these bacteria during the first half of last year.

The malady is also highly infectious: Over the past decade, the CDC has tracked one type of CRE from a single health care facility to health care facilities in at least 42 states.

Frieden urged doctors and public health workers to put in place a "detect and protect" strategy and stop the lethal infections from spreading.

Health officials said other recommendations to avoid transmitting the bacteria include "using antibiotics more wisely" and creating dedicated wards, staff and equipment within hospitals exclusively for patients with CRE.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New drug-resistant superbugs found in 3 states

Sep 13, 2010

(AP) -- An infectious-disease nightmare is unfolding: A new gene that can turn many types of bacteria into superbugs resistant to nearly all antibiotics has sickened people in three states and is popping up all over the ...

Multi-resistant skin bacteria spreading in hospitals

Sep 08, 2010

Genetically closely related skin bacteria that have developed resistance to several different antibiotics and that can cause intractable care-related infections are found and seem to be spreading within and between hospitals ...

Recommended for you

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

13 hours ago

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

18 hours ago

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

Dec 19, 2014

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

Dec 19, 2014

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.