CDC Outlines ‘Nightmare Bacteria’ Threat

The CDC recently published an infographic (see below) illustrating the growing threat posed by the highly drug-resistant bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). 

Nightmare Bacteria

In the past 12 years, this “nightmare bacteria” has spread from one to 46 states, affecting medical facilities in practically the entire U.S.

The threat of CRE is considered important because the organisms are often resistant to multiple classes of antimicrobials, substantially limiting treatment options. 

Some Enterobacteriaceae are resistant to nearly all antibiotics, including carbapenems, which are often considered the antibiotics of last resort. Infections caused by this bacteria are associated with high mortality rates and are common in both community and healthcare settings. 

Each year, approximately 600 deaths result from infections caused by the two most common types of CRE, cabapenem-resistant Klebsiella spp. and carbapenem-resistant E. coli.

Per recommendation by the CDC, healthcare providers can do the following to the slow the spread of CRE:

  • Know if patients with CRE are hospitalized at your facility, and stay aware of CRE infection rates. Ask if a patient has received medical care somewhere else, including another country.
  • Place patients currently or previously colonized or infected with CRE on Contact Precautions. Whenever possible, dedicate rooms, equipment, and staff to CRE patients.
  • Wear a gown and gloves when caring for patients with CRE.
  • Perform hand hygiene – use alcohol-based hand rub or wash hand with soap and water before and after contact with patient or their environment.
  • Alert the receiving facility when you transfer a CRE patient, and find out when a patient with CRE transfers into your facility.
  • Make sure labs immediately alert clinical and infection prevention staff when CRE are identified.
  • Prescribe and use antibiotics wisely.
  • Discontinue devices like urinary catheters as soon as they are no longer necessary. Based on information from a CDC pilot surveillance system most CRE infections involve the urinary tract, often in people with a urinary catheter or with urinary retention.

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