Nightmare bacteria: A type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is more commonplace across hospitals in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are on the rise across hospitals in the United States, according to a new government report.
Health officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning on Tuesday about CREs, which are deemed dangerous because they resist most kinds of antibiotics—including the most heavy-duty ones.
During the first half of 2012, the “nightmare bacteria” has infected patients in around 4 percent of all hospitals in the U.S., including nearly 18 percent of specialty hospitals, the CDC said.
“Our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement published on the agency’s website.
“Doctors, hospital leaders, and public health, must work together now to implement CDC’s ‘detect and protect’ strategy and stop these infections from spreading,” he said.
CRE consist of more than 70 different types of bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli, which generally live in the digestive system. They become resistant over time to carbapenems, a class of strong, last-resort antibiotics.
“It’s not often that our scientists come to me and say we have to sound the alarm, but that’s what we are doing today,” Frieden said at a press conference, according to Reuters. He added that the bacteria are “resistant to all or nearly all antibiotics, they have high mortality rates, and can spread their resistance to other bacteria,” reported Bloomberg News.
He added: “We only have a limited opportunity to prevent this from spreading to the community and more organisms.”
Nearly all CRE infections take place in patients in hospitals or long-care facilities receiving medical care for serious conditions, according to Reuters. Some of these patients have ventilators or catheters, allowing the CRE bacteria to get “get deeply into a patient’s body,” Frieden was quoted as saying.
A recent strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae spread through the Washington D.C.-area National Institutes of Health hospital and killed six people.
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