The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has said that although it is still quite unusual, more and more hospitals in the U.S. are reporting cases of the superbug carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, over the last decade.
Thomas Frieden, MD, the Director of the CDC said the CRE was the nightmare bacteria, partly because the organisms transmit elements that are antibiotic resistant to other types of bacteria and when the CRE attacks blood it often times kills.
However, Frieden stressed that the CRE infections can be prevented with standard measures of infection control such as diligently washing the hands. He told reporters that there still is time to eliminate CRE.
CDC data has indicated that over 4.6% of U.S. hospitals keeping track of infections that are healthcare-associated, had seen a minimum of one case of CRE during 2012. In 2001, only 1.2% of the hospitals participating with the CDC in this data collection had reported a case of CRE.
In Portland, Oregon, Minneapolis and Atlanta, a pilot program that involved labs found, that over 92% of the cases of CRE over a period of five months in 2011 were found in patients that had substantial healthcare exposures.
Although still relatively uncommon, the CRE episodes are usually fatal more often than other forms of infections that are antibiotic resistant. Death rates for CRE infections in the bloodstream are over 40%.
The CDC director recommended chlorhexidine baths in the intensive care area of hospitals as a hygienic protocol. Recent studies show that those baths reduce CRE infections as well as many others.