The bacteria, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), kill up to half of the patients who get the bloodstream infections from the disease. The disease has evolved a resistance to carbapenems, also called last-resort antibiotics.
In addition, the CRE bacteria can reportedly transfer its resistance to other bacteria within its family. The transfer of resistance can create additional life-threatening infections for patients in hospitals, longer-term health care facilities, and possibly otherwise healthy people, according to the CDC.
The CDC said almost all CRE infections occur in people receiving “significant medical care in hospitals, long-term acute care facilities, or nursing homes.”
“CRE are nightmare bacteria. Our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Doctors, hospital leaders, and public health, must work together now to implement CDC’s “detect and protect” strategy and stop these infections from spreading.”
According to numbers from the CDC, almost 200 hospitals and long-term care facilities across the nation treated at least one person infected with the CRE bacteria. The CDC’s Vital Signs report said that the percentage of CRE increased by fourfold over the last decade and that one particular form of CRE, a resistant form of Klebsiella pneumonia, has increased sevenfold.
Still, according to the CDC said the disease is preventable by: enforcing use of infection control precautions, grouping patients with CRE together, having facilities alert each other when patients with CRE are transferred, and using antibiotics wisely among other recommendations.
The CDC said the disease can be controlled through coordinated efforts. It cited a long-term care facility in Florida that worked with the CDC and dropped the percentage of patients getting CRE from 44 percent to zero.