Local hospitals have only seen a few cases over the several years. Although CRE hasn't hit this area very hard, hospitals here are taking precautions to get the word out about this potentially silent killer. Hospital rooms across the country have become battlegrounds. Patients are being attacked by a bacteria that has waged a fierce war. Pathologist Dr. John Steele of Georgia Regents Medical Centers says, "we mostly see it in this country in people who are seriously ill, debilitated, people in nursing homes or elderly people who are in intensive care units."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, CRE has been spotted in 42 states, in four percent of hospitals and reported at 18 percent of long term care facilities. While the numbers may seem low, there is concern because it has grown drastically over the past decade.
It typically affects people who have been hospitalized for long periods of time. Dr. Steele explains, "if they soil their bedding or something like that and it's not cleaned up right away and people don't practice good hand hygiene it can be spread from person to person to an object then and then from there to other people." Dr. Steele says what makes this super bug so scary is it's super resistance to antibiotics. "There's one very old antibiotic that's useful but it has some toxicity issues. There's another one that seems to be working in limited conditions and they're working on some other ones. One of the problems we face is there are not a lot of new antibiotics coming out in the next ten years."
In the meantime, hospitals and nursing homes are pulling out all their arsenal and preparing for a long battle with an enemy that has waged a deadly war. "For this organism they're talking about some screening program for it. It's still very rare here at our hospital. But we have had a few isolates and we'll probably see more," Dr. Steele says.
The best defense against CRE is thorough hand washing with soap and water.
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