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Monday, November 4, 2013

A New “superbug” CRE, Rapidly Invades US Hospitals

One particularly lethal type of bacteria, known as Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), has become resistant to nearly all antibiotics in the market. In an online article published by the New York Times, at least two million Americans fall ill from antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year and that at least 23,000 die from those infections, putting a hard number on a growing public health threat. Doctors who specialize in infectious diseases have long foreseen and warned that antibiotic resistance might bring us back to the time when people died from ordinary infections. Now, hospitals are hysterical in slowing the spread of CRE through wards. The superbug outbreak brings about a handful of CRE cases throughout the US.
Note that healthy people do not usually catch CRE infections. CRE infections most commonly occur among patients who are receiving treatment for other conditions. For short, the people who have been confined in a hospital for quite some time are more likely to catch the infection. These germs can cause infections when they get into the bladder, blood, or other areas where germs don't belong.

How do people really get infected? No worries for the infection is not air-borne. But a person might catch CRE through personal contact with an infected; sick patients, doctors or nurses. He or she may also get the infection from medical devices such as ventilators (breathing machines), urinary (bladder) catheters, or intravenous (vein) catheters. Animals are also carriers of the said infection. There is one case in Virginia in which poultry workers caught CRE. Be warned that not only from exposure to infected animals can you catch the CRE; consumption of contaminated or infected animals may directly transfer the infection to you. So always know what you’re eating!

Here are some tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website on how to prevent the infection:

  • Tell your doctor if you have been hospitalized in another facility or country.
  • Take antibiotics only as prescribed.
  • Expect all doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching your body or tubes going into your body.
  • Clean your own hands often, especially:
  • Before preparing or eating food
  • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Before and after changing wound dressings or bandages or handling medical devices
  • After using the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Ask questions. Understand what is being done to you, the risks and benefits.

Do not underestimate this infection for it can be fatal. According to CDC, some CRE bacteria have become resistant to almost all available antibiotics and can be deadly—one report cites they can contribute to death in up to 50% of patients who become infected.


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