CRE Superbug

The CRE Superbug

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A look back to 2013 shows a report from the CDC warning that some antibiotics are being overpowered by lethal germs called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE for short. In the last few months we have seen multiple stories on the news where these issues have been occurring close to home, in our own healthcare facilities.

These germs cause lethal infections in patients receiving inpatient medical care, such as in hospitals, long-term acute-care facilities, and nursing homes.

While the CDC has warned about CRE for more than a decade, new information shows that these germs are now becoming more common. One type of CRE has been detected in medical facilities in 42 states. Even more concerning, this report documents a seven-fold increase in the spread of the most common type of CRE during the past 10 years.

Why are CRE so alarming?

Even though these infections are not common, their rise is alarming because they kill up to half of people who get severe infections from them. In addition to causing lethal infections among patients, CRE is especially good at giving their antibiotic-fighting abilities to other kinds of germs.

How is CRE spread?

To get a CRE infection, a person must be exposed to CRE germs. CRE germs are usually spread person to person through contact with infected or colonized people, particularly contact with wounds or stool. CRE can cause infections when they enter the body, often through medical devices like ventilators, intravenous catheters, urinary catheters, or endoscopes.

How can CRE be stopped?

There have been major successes in stopping CRE in medical facilities in the United States, and nationally in other countries. Stopping CRE will take a rapid, coordinated, and aggressive “Detect and Protect” action that includes intense infection prevention work and antibiotic prescribing changes.

What can patients do to prevent CRE infections?

Tell your doctor if you have been hospitalized in another facility or country.

Take antibiotics only as prescribed!!!! 

Expect all doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching your body or tubes going into your body.  If they do not, ask them to do so.

Clean your own hands often, especially:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • Before and after changing wound dressings or bandages
  • After using the bathroom

AND, ask questions. Understand what is being done to you, the risks and benefits.