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

March 5, 2013

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.

Explore further: Few hospitals aggressively combat catheter-associated urinary tract infections

Related Stories

Few hospitals aggressively combat catheter-associated urinary tract infections

December 8, 2011
Hospitals are working harder than ever to prevent hospital-acquired infections, but a nationwide survey shows few are aggressively combating the most common one – catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

Fighting drug-resistant 'super-bugs': UCLA expert offers protection tips

May 11, 2011
The new "super-bug" CRKP, known officially as carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, is just the latest in a series of emerging drug-resistant strains of bacteria that pose a serious threat to human health. CRKP ...

New plasma jet gives 'cold' shoulder to 'superbugs'

October 3, 2012
Scientists at Queen's University Belfast have developed a new technique which has the potential to kill off hospital superbugs like Pseudomonas aeruginosa, C. difficile and MRSA.

Recommended for you

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Newly-discovered TB blood signal provides early warning for at-risk patients

January 17, 2018
Tuberculosis can be detected in people with HIV infection via a unique blood signal before symptoms appear, according to a new study by researchers from the Crick, Imperial College London and the University of Cape Town.

New study validates clotting risk factors in chronic kidney disease

January 17, 2018
In late 2017, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) discovered and published (Science Translational Medicine, (9) 417, Nov 2017) a potential treatment target to prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD) ...

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

0 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.