Jump in rare 'superbug' cases

CRE 'superbug' infection may be dormant in body for a year

February 28, 2013

A sharp jump in the number of rare, but potentially deadly types of a superbug resistant to nearly all last-resort antibiotics has been observed in the U. S. Reports of unusual forms of the drug-resistant germs have nearly doubled in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common type of the highly drug-resistant germs, known as CREs, is the Klebsiella pneumonia bacteria. Researchers in Israel have reported that people with the dangerous CRE can take more than a year before they test negative for the bacteria. The situation makes if more difficult to control and raises the risk of wider spread.

“The major concern is that an undiagnosed carrier may be admitted to hospital for totally unrelated reasons, and subsequently and unwittingly pass his CRE to other patients,” Dr. Amon Yinnon, one of the authors of the Israeli study, said.

The situation has prompted government health officials to renew warning for U.S. hospitals, nursing home and other health care settings. CREs belong to a family of drug-resistant germs that have the ability to elude carbapenem antibiotics, often the last drugs in a medical arsenal. They often affect people who are already sick, or require ventilators, catheters, or have been on long- term antibiotic therapy. However, CREs can infect any patient.

The CDC is calling for increased hygiene precautions, stricter isolation policies, and increased screening of patients who are potentially colonized with CRE. Better communication within and between hospitals and other health care settings has also been called for, since CRE infections have a mortality rate of up to 40%. The infection rate is much higher than other health care infections, such as those caused by MRSA or C. difficile.

Right now, the therapeutic options are very limited.” Said the CDC’s Dr. Alex Kallen, a medical epidemiologist and outbreak response coordinator in the agency’s Healthcare Quality Promotion division.

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