Superbug 2013: Deadly Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs Sweep Across U.S.

A new wave of aggressive bacteria may become the world’s latest health scare, joining the ranks of the swine flu and SARS. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that a family of “superbugs” known as CRE has spread across hospitals throughout the United States and can potentially be untreatable. Intense precautions must be made to avoid such illness, as the bugs resist all antibiotics, posing a major threat to the human race.

The often deadly bugs are called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), and typically affect vulnerable patients in health facilities. Although the bacteria have since been found indoors, the CDC shared their worry that it is only a matter of time for an outbreak to occur. CDC director Thomas Frieden expressed his concern for the new generation of the threatening bacteria.

"These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat. 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,” he said.

According to the CDC report, a particular strain of CRE has been found in 42 states in the U.S. Germs in the Enterobacteriaceae family are naturally found in the human digestive system. However new germs have adapted to resist all forms of antibiotics, including carbapenem, one of the strongest antibiotics known to the medical world.  The CRE in focus has increased in cases from 2% to 10% over the past decade. 

The major concern associated with these new strains of CRE is that healthy people can easily fall ill when germs spread to different areas of the body. With that in mind, the CDC is predicting that there will be a major increase in infection cases.

The CDC has urged medical facilities to be proactive and raise awareness about the threatening bacteria. In the CDC’s 2012 CRE Toolkit, several measures have been outlined to reduce the chance of CRE appearing. Some of these actions include avid hand hygiene, educational programs and CRE screening initiatives.

Other nations such as Israel have been successful in decreasing the spread of CRE. The U.S. has the same potential to eliminate the presence of the threatening CRE, however, the keys to the CDC being successful is through education and amassing significant participation from the health system.