Officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are concerned about a family of untreatable bacteria, or superbugs, that are currently spreading through America’s hospitals, and are not too optimistic as to whether this family of bacteria can be stopped in time.
“These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat,” explained CDC director Thomas Frieden. “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 in question is known as CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, and has only been detected so far in hospitals and nursing homes; fortunately, it has yet to be detected outside a health facility environment. However, if the superbugs are not controlled soon, Frieden believes that even the most common forms of minor infection may not be treatable anymore.
Mostly, individuals with immune deficiencies are targeted by the untreatable bacteria, particularly those who have been hospitalized of some time or those who presently live in a nursing home. In 2001, only a shade over 1 percent of the Enterobacteriaceae family was immune to antibiotics designed to combat carbapenem. However, this figure rose to 4.2 percent in 2011, and could possibly rise if action isn’t taken soon. And the scary part about CRE is that it isn’t the type of bacteria to spread quickly from one person to another; it attacks quietly and takes its time in contaminating other individuals.
Unfortunately, the CDC has maintained a pessimistic stand on whether it could effectively combat the untreatable bacteria before it’s too late. The superbugs are now found in 42 of the 50 states, and as of November 2012, CRE infections were reported in several large cities in America, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. In the meantime, the CDC is encouraging everyone affected or not to do their part in keeping each other safe, by washing their hands before and after entering a hospital room, and to let proper authorities know if they had recently visited another hospital or a foreign country.