Health Team

New drug-resistant bacteria on the rise

Posted March 5, 2013 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2013 3:42 p.m. EST

The Centers for Disease and Control revealed details Tuesday about a new drug-resistant bacteria spreading in medical facilities.

The bacteria is called CRE, and it’s triggering life-threatening infections that in some cases are impossible to treat.

The CDC said infections from this bacteria are up dramatically at hospitals across the country, with 42 states reporting cases. The bacteria have developed a stronger resistance to antibiotics over the past decade, leaving infected patients without many treatment options.

“We know that these infections are very lethal,” said Dr. Argun Srinivasan of the CDC. “Among the patients who get serious infections with the CRE bacteria, they get them in their bloodstream and roughly half of those patients may die.”

The CDC said during the first half of last year, almost 200 health care facilities treated at least one infected patient. People most at risk are patients in intensive care or those receiving chemotherapy or organ transplants.

CRE infections are still relatively uncommon, but the CDC said hospitals need to act now to prevent the problem from getting bigger.

“It is important to pay careful attention to washing your hands - using alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Also wear gowns and gloves when you are caring for these patients, and clean your equipment carefully,” said Srinivason.

Health experts said hospitals need to identify which patients have the bacteria and take precautions to prevent it from spreading.