The University of California, Los Angeles reported this past Wednesday that nearly 180 patients were exposed to a harmful “superbug.”
The bug lay undetected on medical instruments and may have contributed to two deaths.
This “superbug” is actually a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae.
UCLA Medical Center isn’t the only place where CRE is making an appearance.
How do you know if you or a loved one is at risk? NPR.org recently reported that …
“The bacteria can cause infections of the bladder or lungs, leading to coughing, fever or chills. CRE infections have been reported in every state except Idaho, Alaska and Maine, according to the CDC.”
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria like CRE are difficult to treat by well-known antibiotics. This is due to their ability to mutate and adapt over time.
Even some familiar antibiotic medications like penicillin are no longer effective against CRE.
As a result, much like a virus, CRE multiplies within the body and eventually overwhelms it.
Unfortunately, some of these mutations take place so quickly that doctors and scientists don’t have enough time to develop a cure.
The key to one day defeating CRE lies in catching it early, before it spreads to critical mass.
One report suggests CRE has reportedly killed up to half of patients with bloodstream infections.
It’s a rate much higher than other resistant infections like MRSA or Clostridium Difficile, which can better tolerate extreme conditions within the body than regular bacteria.
Fox News had this to say about CRE:
“A similar outbreak occurred in Illinois in 2013. Dozens of patients were exposed to CRE, with some cases apparently linked to a tainted endoscope used at Advocated Lutheran General Hospital. The hospital later changed its sterilization procedures.”
In January, Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle reported that CRE was found on an endoscope, which in turn contributed to 11 deaths.
Experts say these cases represent a disturbing surge. As one doctor told the Los Angeles Times …
“This bacteria is emerging in the U.S. and it’s associated with a high mortality rate,” said Alex Kallen, an epidemiologist in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We don’t want this circulating anywhere in the community.”
Could this “superbug” become the next Ebola? It may be too early to say for sure, but it’s best to be aware of what could be happening at your local hospital and question it than not knowing anything at all.
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