CDC: Nightmare Resistant Bacteria Strain

Shigella boydii bacteriaOfficials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging hospitals to take preventative action against the spread of a deadly, antibiotic-resistant “nightmare” strain of bacteria. 

Enterobacteriaceae are a family of bacteria that commonly cause infections in health-care settings. Among Enterobacteriaceae, resistance to broad-spectrum carbapenem antimicrobials had been uncommon. However, a dramatic rise over the past decade of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) has been cause for concern. The bacterial infections are particularly difficult to treat and kill up to half of patients who are infected. 

Analysis of infection cases shows that although the bacteria are not yet common nationally, the percentage of Enterobacteriaceae that are CRE increased by fourfold in the past decade.  One type of CRE, a resistant form of Klebsiella pneumoniae, has shown a sevenfold increase in the last decade.  In the U.S., northeastern states report the most cases of CRE. 

“CRE are nightmare bacteria,” stated CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden. “Our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections. Doctors, hospital leaders and public health must work together now to implement CDC’s ‘detect and protect’ strategy and stop these infections from spreading.” 

Interventions exist that could slow the dissemination of CRE. Public health departments at the state and local levels are “well positioned to play a leading role in prevention efforts by assisting with surveillance, situational awareness, and coordinating prevention efforts.” 

Key recommendations include:

  • Enforcing use of infection control precautions
  • Grouping patients with CRE together
  • Dedicating staff, rooms and equipment to the care of patients with CRE, whenever possible
  • Having facilities alert each other when patients with CRE transfer back and forth
  • Asking patients whether they have recently received care somewhere else
  • Using antibiotics wisely 

Because of the way CRE can be carried by patients from one health care setting to another, facilities are being encouraged to work together regionally to implement CRE prevention programs. 

Read the report details in this week’s CDC Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Vital Signs: Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae.