- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a new family of bacteria, called CRE, that is resistant to antibiotics is killing half of the patients who are infected.

CRE stands for Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae.

“These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat,” said Thomas Frieden, director at CDC, in a USA Today report. “They’re resistant to nearly all antibiotics. They have high mortality rates, killing half of people with serious infections. And they can spread their resistance to other bacteria.”

The “superbug,” as CDC has dubbed it, has been found mostly in hospitals and nursing homes, and not in the community at-large. But that’s still saying a lot. Fox News reports that one-in-24 hospitals in the United States are infected with the bacteria.

“Very scary,” said Dr. Manny Alvarez, during a Wednesday morning Fox News appearance. He said part of the reason for the superbug’s strength and growth is “overcrowded hospitals” and the natural evolution of the bacteria.

“Hospitals … don’t have enough time to clean the beds. And also, these bugs have evolved,” he said on Fox News.

The CDC says 200 hospitals in the first six months of 2012 treated at least one CRE infection, and about 4 percent of hospitals have reported at least one patient with CRE.

It’s “the biggest threat to patient safety in the hospital we have,” said Costi Sifri, an infectious disease physician at the University of Virginia Health System, in the USA Today report. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anything is slowing their spread.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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