Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) tops the list of antibiotic resistant superbugs that originate in hospital settings. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated the CRE family of germs and warn hospitals that they resist the strongest antibiotics. The resulting infections are almost untreatable. While the infections start in hospitals, they eventually make their way out into the community, according to a March 6 ABC News article.
The March CDC Vital Signs report says, "About 18 percent of long-term acute care hospitals and about 4 percent of short-stay hospitals in the US had at least one CRE infection during the first half of 2012."
Almost all CRE infections occur in patients who get serious medical care. The infections kill up to half of patients who have the bacterial infection in their bloodstreams.
Carbapenems are a class of broad spectrum antibiotics that inhibit cell wall synthesis. These are most effective against gram-negative infections, according to SRS Pharmaceuticals. However, CRE create enzymes that break down carbapenems, making them ineffective.
CRE germs are not very common right now, but they increased from 1 to 4 percent in the past decade. One type of CRE has increased from 2 to 10 percent. The even more scary idea is that CRE can pass their antibiotic resistance to other kinds of germs for a broader range of infections that could be untreatable.
CRE germs can be managed or reduced when hospitals follow CDC guidelines and develop coordinated programs. The CDC Toolkit is available to hospitals and acute care facilities. Over a year, Israel used a coordinated program to reduce CRE infections by more than 70 percent in all 27 of its hospitals.