On March 5, health officials from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) revealed that the bacteria Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) surfaced in four percent of U.S. hospitals and 18 percent of nursing homes. It is a naturally occurring bacteria found in human intestines. The problem arises when enterobacteriaceae spread outside of the intestines and cause serious infection.
Most CRE infections occur in people with long hospital stays and in long-term care residents. The CRE bacteria spread easily from patient to patient via their caregivers, which emphasizes the need for caregivers to use good hand hygiene practices and wear gloves.
Called the “nightmare” bacteria, CRE is resistant to strong antibiotics and has resulted in death for half of those infected, the CDC reports. It is difficult to track on a national level because there is no Medicare/Medicaid billing code for CRE.
CRE is in the family of enterobacteriaceae that includes Klebsiella pneumonia, and has increased sevenfold in the past 10 years, as reported in the CDC’s March 5 Vital Signs. The agency is tracking reported incidents of CRE across the country.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, advised doctors, hospitals and public health to work together to implement the CDC’s ‘detect and protect’ strategy:
- Enforce infection control programs be enforced
- Keep patients with CRE together
- Segregate staff, rooms and equipment to people with CRE
- Inform facilities when residents are transferred and use antibiotics carefully.
Agency officials recommend additional funding for research and technology to prevent and quickly identify CRE bacteria.