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Pneumonia. Yellow warning tapes with black words PNEUMONIA. Isolated. 3D Illustration

A new “superbug” bacteria Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE has infected hundreds of people in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.  Persons infected with the CRE bacteria have been found in Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina Hospitals.  CRE bacteria are able to resist carbapenem antibiotics.  These antibiotics are the strongest class of antibiotics.  Victims of CRE are found primarily in health care facilities.

Seven people died at the National Institutes of Health clinical Center, near Washington D.C.  during the summer of 2012, including a 16 year boy.

Death rates from CRE can be as high as 40% in United States Hospitals.  So far CRE bacteria have infected patients who are immunosuppressed or elderly.

CRE bacterial infection may be more widespread than suspected according to the CDC.  Many hospitals do not have adequate lab facilities to track the bacteria.  There are also no new antibiotics being developed to treat CRE.  So far there is no federal mandate to report the spread of the bacteria in hospitals.

Since 2008, some 3% of hospitalized patients in Chicago area intensive care units are colonized with CRE bacteria.  As many as 30% of patients in long term care facilities were carriers of CRE.

What is disturbing is that many persons who carry CRE bacteria are asymptomatic.  When they become symptomatic they can move from one care facility to another, taking the CRE bacteria with them.  Health care workers carry the bacteria on their hands and more people are infected.

The importance of good hand washing, the use of alcohol gel hand cleaners, and the use of gloves when appropriate cannot be stressed enough.  Poor hand washing increases the spread of CRE.

Doctors are very alarmed because resistant CRE genes are moving to other members of the Enterobacteriaceae species.  They are creating more CRE resistant bacteria.  So far as many as three species of CRE have been identified.

The gene that makes bacteria resistant to carbapenem bacteria attaches to mobile DNA called plasmids.  CRE attaches to soft tissue and causes urinary and blood infections.  Scientists are concerned now that soon CRE may show up in communities and not just health care facilities.]]>

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