'Nightmare Bacteria' a Rising Threat in US Hospitals

Family of germs resists even the strongest antibiotics
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2013 4:41 AM CST
"We can nip this in the bud. But it's going to take a lot of effort on the part of hospitals," CDC director Thomas Frieden says.   (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

(Newser) – A family of deadly germs that can withstand even the strongest antibiotics is a growing threat in American hospitals, federal officials warn. Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae—CRE—have been detected in 4% of short-stay hospitals and nearly a fifth of long-term ones and authorities warn there is only a "limited window of opportunity" to prevent their spread, the New York Times reports. Cases have been reported in 42 states.

"What's called CRE are nightmare bacteria," CDC director Thomas Frieden tells NPR. He describes them as a "triple threat" because they are resistant to even last-ditch antibiotics, can cause fatality rates of nearly 50%, and can pass on drug resistance to other bacteria. "The mechanism of resistance to antibiotics not only works for one bacteria, but can be spread to others," Frieden warns. The CDC is urging hospitals to do all they can to contain CRE before it spreads to the community at large. (Read more superbug stories.)

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