During the first half of 2012, almost 200 hospitals and long-term acute care facilities treated at least one patient infected with these bacteria, the CDC reported. New Jersey is one of 42 states to report at least one case.
The bacteria, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), kills nearly half the patients who become infected, the CDC said, and it is most prevalent in the northeastern part of the United States.
"CRE are nightmare bacteria," said CDC Director 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.”
From the CDC:
CRE, which stands for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, are a family of germs that are difficult to treat because they have high levels of resistance to antibiotics. Klebsiella species andEscherichia coli (E. coli) are examples of Enterobacteriaceae, a normal part of the human gut bacteria, that can become carbapenem-resistant. Types of CRE are sometimes known as KPC (Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase) and NDM (New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase). KPC and NDM are enzymes that break down carbapenems and make them ineffective.
Healthy people usually do not get CRE infections. In healthcare settings, CRE infections most commonly occur among patients who are receiving treatment for other conditions. Patients whose care requires devices like ventilators (breathing machines), urinary (bladder) catheters, or intravenous (vein) catheters, and patients who are taking long courses of certain antibiotics are most at risk for CRE infections.
Some CRE bacteria have become resistant to most available antibiotics. Infections with these germs are very difficult to treat, and can be deadly—one report cites they can contribute to death in up to 50% of patients who become infected.