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New CDC Vital Signs: Lethal, Drug-resistant Bacteria Spreading in U.S. Healthcare Facilities

Drug-resistant germs called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, are on the rise and have become more resistant to last-resort antibiotics during the past decade, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report.  These bacteria are causing more hospitalized patients to get infections that, in some cases, are impossible to treat. 

CRE are lethal bacteria that pose a triple threat:

  • Resistance: CRE are resistant to all, or nearly all, the antibiotics we have - even our most powerful drugs of last-resort.
  • Death: CRE have high mortality rates – CRE germs kill 1 in 2 patients who get bloodstream infections from them.
  • Spread of disease:  CRE easily transfer their antibiotic resistance to other bacteria.  For example, carbapenem-resistant klebsiella can spread its drug-destroying weapons to a normal E. coli bacteria, which makes the E.coli resistant to antibiotics also. That could create a nightmare scenario since E. coli is the most common cause of urinary tract infections in healthy people.

Currently, almost all CRE infections occur in people receiving significant medical care.  CRE are usually transmitted from person-to-person, often on the hands of health care workers.  In 2012, CDC released a concise, practical CRE prevention toolkit with in-depth recommendations to control CRE transmission in hospitals, long-term acute care facilities, and nursing homes.  Recommendations for health departments are also included.  CRE can be carried by patients from one health care setting to another.  Therefore, facilities are encouraged to work together, using a regional “Detect and Protect” approach, to implement CRE prevention programs.

In addition to detailed data about the rise of CRE, the Vital Signs report details steps health care providers, CEOs and chief medical officers, state health departments and patients can take now to slow, and even stop, CRE before it becomes widespread throughout the country.

SAVE THE DATE: Chat with CDC Director Tom Frieden on CRE and other healthcare-associated infections, March 25, 2013, 2 p.m. ET

Graphics / Images

  • CRE germs kill up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them

    CRE germs kill up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them

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  • Vutal Signsweb graphic

    4% & 18% - About 4% of the 4,000 US hospitals studied had at least one patient with a serious CRE infection during the first half of 2012. About 18% of the country’s 200 long-term acute care hospitals had one. This totals nearly 200 facilities with at least one CRE patient in six months.

    42 - One type of CRE infection has been reported in medical facilities in 42 states during the last 10 years.

    1 in 2 CRE germs kill up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them.

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  • Vutal Signs web graphic

    Vital Signs Graphics 2

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  • Klebsiella pneumoniae

    Klebsiella pneumoniae

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  • Lab worker Kitty Anderson

    CDC’s Kitty Anderson holds up a 96-well plate used for testing the ability of bacteria to growth in the presence of antibiotics.

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  • CDC staff show two plates growing bacteria

    CDC staff show two plates growing bacteria in the presence of discs containing various antibiotics. The isolate on the left plate is susceptible to the antibiotics on the discs and is therefore unable to grow around the discs. The one on the right has a CRE that is resistant to all of the antibiotics tested and is able to grow near the disks.

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  • CDC’s Tatiana Travis sets up real-time polymerase chain reaction

    CDC’s Tatiana Travis sets up real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to detect drug-resistant pathogens, including CRE.

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  • CDC’s Tatiana Travis sets up real-time polymerase chain reaction

    CDC microbiologist, Tatiana Travis, sets up real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to detect drug-resistant pathogens, including CRE.

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  • CDC microbiologist, Kitty Anderson

    CDC microbiologist, Kitty Anderson, looks at a 96-well plate used for testing the ability of bacteria to growth in the presence of antibiotics.

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  • CDC microbiologist, Johannetsy Avillan

    CDC microbiologist, Johannetsy Avillan, holds up a plate that demonstrates the modified Hodge test, which is used to identify resistance in bacteria known as Enterobacteriaceae. Bacteria that are resistant to carbapenems, considered “last resort” antibiotics, produce a distinctive clover-leaf shape.

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  • CDC microbiologist, Kitty Anderson

    CDC microbiologist, Kitty Anderson, looks at a 96-well plate used for testing the ability of bacteria to grow in the presence of antibiotics.

    This is a description for image 1

  • CDC microbiologist, Kitty Anderson

    CDC microbiologist, Johannetsy Avillan, holds up a plate that demonstrates the modified Hodge test, which is used to identify resistance in bacteria known as Enterobacteriaceae. Bacteria that are resistant to carbapenems, considered “last resort” antibiotics, produce a distinctive clover-leaf shape.

    This is a description for image 1

  • CDC microbiologist, Alicia Shams

    CDC microbiologist, Alicia Shams, demonstrates Klebsiella pneumoniae growing on a MacConkey agar plate. Klebsiella pneumoniae is the most common Enterobacteriaceae that is drug resistant.

    This is a description for image 1

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokespersons

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

Biography

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH

CRE are nightmare bacteria. Our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections. Doctors, nurses, hospital leaders, and public health, must work together now to implement CDC’s “detect and protect” strategy and stop these infections from spreading.

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Michael Bell, MD

Biography

Michael Bell, MD

We have seen in outbreak after outbreak that when facilities and regions follow CDC’s prevention guidelines, CRE can be controlled and even stopped. As trusted health care providers, it is our responsibility to prevent further spread of these potentially deadly bacteria.

Michael Bell, MD - Acting Director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

Arjun Srinivasan, MD

Biography

Arjun Srinivasan, MD

Now is the time to act. We have prevention recommendations – they just need to be enacted. We must tackle these bugs before they become widespread.

Arjun Srinivasan, MD - Associate Director for Healthcare-Associated Infection Prevention Programs in CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

Multimedia

Video

Director's Briefing on CRE

Video: Director's Briefing on CRE

Author: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 3/5/2013
Director's Briefing on CRE

Broadcast quality clips on CRE

Outbreaks of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae

Video: Outbreaks of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae

Author: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 5/2/2012
Outbreaks of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae

Carbapenem Resistance in the United States: What Should Clinicians Do?

Video: Carbapenem Resistance in the United States: What Should Clinicians Do?

Author: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 12/6/2010
Carbapenem Resistance in the United States: What Should Clinicians Do?

Stopping the Hospital Spread of Gram-Negative Bacilli

Video: Stopping the Hospital Spread of Gram-Negative Bacilli

Author: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 11/15/2011
Stopping the Hospital Spread of Gram-Negative Bacilli

B-Roll

Podcasts

 
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