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New superbug shares its antibiotic resistance with other bacteria

Accreditation Insider, December 14, 2015

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More cases of a dangerous strain of Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) have been reported in the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. The new strain, called the “phantom menace” by some researchers, is particularly dangerous because it produces an enzyme that can break down antibiotics. Worse still, its DNA also contains a plasmid that allows it to share that antibiotic resistance to other forms of bacteria in the human body.
There have been 43 cases this type of CRE in the U.S. in the past five years. New cases are on the rise however, jumping from a single new case in 2010 to 11 new cases in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
"This is a tricky drug-resistant bacteria, and it isn't easily found," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in an interview. "What we're seeing is an assault by the microbes on the last bastion of antibiotics."
Depending on the strain, CRE infections can kill up to 50% of patients who contract it, making it a major concern for healthcare providers. Last month, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the two medical manufacturers after a North Carolinian patient died after being infected with CRE during an endoscopic procedure.   In 2013, the CDC reported that 2 million Americans contracted an antibiotic-resistant infection and that 23,000 died as a result.


Antibiotic-resistant diseases and infections are an increasing worry among medical professionals. The CDC is already making changes that will make screening for this strain of CRE standard  practice. Methods that healthcare professionals can use are:
•    Stronger antimicrobial stewardship. Nearly half of antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary, resulting in more drug-resistant strains of disease.
•    Improving infection controls in healthcare facilities through maintaining cleaner workstations, immunizing healthcare staff, preventing staff from working while sick, implementing safer food preparation, and increasing handwashing compliance.
•    Submitting information on infections, antibiotic use, and drug resistance to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network. This will aid in the tracking of the types and causes of antibiotic resistant infections and find ways to prevent their spread.



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